Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s New Hampshire Result Leaves Chase Spot In Doubt

If you're a card-carrying member of Junior Nation, you may want to cover your eyes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. managed a 15th-place result on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the finish dropped him another spot in the standings – from eighth to ninth – and left him perilously close to the edge of the top 10.

Sitting just seven points ahead of 11th place and heading into an off-week before the stretch run to the Chase, Earnhardt Jr. has a new mantra: Remain calm.

"Fifteenth ain't awesome, but certainly better than what we've been putting on points-wise," Earnhardt Jr. said after the race. "I've just got to stay calm and take what the heck I can get instead of trying to make something happen and ruining the day like I did last week (at Kentucky).

"Today, I just tried not to go crazy, because I was really getting frustrated with the way the car drove. I tried not to flip out in there and just get what I can get."

Earnhardt Jr. was "cooking" inside the car on a hot day, he said. He addressed reporters while wearing a white undershirt that was completely soaked through with sweat.

But the heat wasn't his problem. What really bothered him was a change in the Goodyear tire from the one that NASCAR ran last year at New Hampshire, when he had two top-10s.

"Just gotta figure out the difference in this tire," he said. "Every frickin' damn week, they change the tire. We had a pretty good tire running here (the last few New Hampshire races); I guess the government is getting on 'em about how they build 'em or something, and they had to bring a new one here.

"I didn't like it, but we can figure the setup out and try to get it to where they drive good."

Despite not getting the setup right, Earnhardt Jr. actually had a shot at a decent finish. He was running in the top 10 on the final pit stop, but a tire violation on pit road forced him to restart 33rd.

"We got it to drive pretty good a couple times, but most of the time, we weren't very good," he said. "I think we'll definitely start from scratch when we come back here next time. We struggled all weekend."

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