Dale Earnhardt Jr. got in his car on Sunday feeling pressure. No, not the pressure to sweep the season at Michigan International Raceway, but pressure to not screw up.
Earnhardt Jr. had spun twice on his own in the past two weeks – at Watkins Glen and during Saturday's Michigan practice – and was determined not to do it again.
"That's something I try not to have happen and try not to have that kind of reputation," he said. "I felt real bad last night about wrecking the car and all the work the guys had to do to get this car ready for today. They just pored through so many documents and notes on that car to try to put it on the start grid this morning. They did an awesome job."
Earnhardt Jr. had to start in the rear of the field after crashing his primary car – the one which he drove to Victory Lane at Michigan's June race – but worked his way through the field thanks to a good car and pit strategy. He ended up with a fourth-place result, which was his 10th top-five finish of the season – more than the previous three years combined.
"Thanks to my crew, and I give all those guys all the credit for today," he said. "Steve (Letarte, crew chief) did a good job getting us some track position with his pit strategy in giving us an opportunity to get a good run. We may not have quite enough to win, but a good finish position."