While it appeared all of the drivers purposefully spent much of Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 just riding around Daytona International Speedway, that wasn't actually the case – at least according to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I don't know what everybody (watching) thought was happening, but the whole race...it looked like riding, but we were on the mat, pushing the guy in front of us, not going anywhere," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We weren't taking it easy, we just couldn't do anything.
"I promise you: If I could have drove up there and passed the leader, I would have led some damn laps, you know what I mean?"
Earnhardt Jr. said he didn't want to just sit and ride, but he couldn't do anything else – nor could anyone around him. The top three drivers running the bottom line seemed to be safe, he said, and everyone else just sat there running side-by-side because they were unable to make passes.
"I know you hear this every week, but I think we can work on the package," he said. "We can't pass the leader. You can do a tandem at the end of the race like you saw, but you get hot (while tandem-drafting), so you can't do it all day."
At the end of the race, Earnhardt Jr. was in position for a top-five finish, but he was collected in the final big wreck coming to the line and got a 15th-place result instead.
Earnhardt Jr. said it looked like Greg Biffle came down on Kevin Harvick to start the wreck, and he couldn't get off Harvick because he was getting shoved from behind. And just when Earnhardt Jr. thought he'd cleared the crash, Biffle came off the wall and hit him.
"My mama told me she hoped the Cup race wasn't as wild as the Nationwide race is, but they always are, you know?" Earnhardt Jr. said. "All these races are always like that. And you just try to survive. We just came up a little short."