Dale Earnhardt Jr. knew he shouldn't be frustrated with his fifth-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway, but he just couldn't help himself.
So even though he didn't want to, Earnhardt Jr. still lamented about a race that he felt he let get away.
"We feel like we could have finished better than fifth, maybe won the race," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Just didn't get the breaks on pit road. We kind of got boxed in and picked on beating the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) off pit road. I think we could have beat him off pit road, but somebody was pulling in their stall in front of us, and just had to lift and give the spot to the No. 99."
Because Sunday's race was mostly about track position, Earnhardt Jr. referred to that incident as the moment where the race was won or lost.
"I was a little disappointed because I think we could have won," Earnhardt Jr. said. "And you hate to give away them points. And I'd love to get to Victory Lane."
That doesn't mean that Earnhardt Jr. wasn't satisfied with how the day ended. His fifth-place result accompanied with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 has Earnhardt Jr. off to the best start he's had to a season since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.
"We haven't been good here, Earnhardt Jr. said. "This is a good sign for us though that we've improved this much at Phoenix. Hopefully it's a sign for the rest of the season and that we're going to be all right."
Because of his early season success, Earnhardt Jr. heads into next week's race at Las Motor Speedway tied for second in the standings with Brad Keselowski and just eight points behind Jimmie Johnson.