Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a seventh-place result at Atlanta on Sunday night, so you wouldn't think he'd use words like "embarrassed," "disappointed" and "worried" to describe his race.
But after being caught a lap down early and running 18th or 19th for most of the night, Earnhardt Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports team were able to pull out a good finish despite a car he said was "real bad."
"I thought it wasn't that bad in practice, but it just wasn't good," he said. "We'll have to start from scratch."
Uh oh, Junior Nation. You hear that? Start from scratch? Sound the alarms! With half the Chase consisting of 1.5-mile tracks like Atlanta, Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team are S-C-R-E-W-E-D.
"We've got a year to figure it out before we come back," Earnhardt Jr. said.
Wait, what? Don't panic just yet, people.
As it turns out, Atlanta is so unique because of its track surface that Earnhardt Jr. wasn't the least bit concerned the weekend's struggles could carry over to the Chase.
"We got a lot of ideas and I'm not worried by no means," he said. "There's not another track like this on the circuit, so I'm not too worried about the Chase. It's not really a gauge of how we're going to run, I don't think, going forward."
And in case you were thinking Earnhardt Jr. and his team were trying some crazy experimental setup, that wasn't the case, either. The reason is the same as why Earnhardt Jr. isn't worried about the Chase – because Atlanta doesn't apply to anywhere else.
"That track is really worn out, and you run a lot of old, traditional stuff here," he said. "What we had just wasn't working for me."
Anyway, Earnhardt Jr. and his team did manage to get a top-10 out of what should have been a crappy night, so at least that's something. The driver said it was a reminder to "not implode or self-destruct when things aren't going right."
"It showed us tonight no matter how bad things are looking that you have to keep plugging away, because you never know what might happen," he said.