Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't letting a 29th-place finish on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway get him down. No one could blame him for being a little self-deprecating either as the poor result wasn't indicative of his team's performance but rather Earnhardt's own mistake.
Earnhardt was running third on lap 187 when he reported that his car had completely lost power. He hit pit road where his team quickly diagnosed the problem as a dead battery - something Earnhardt could have easily fixed by switching over to his backup.
But he didn't flip the switch.
Earnhardt accepted the blame but said it was difficult to diagnose the car from inside the cockpit while his gauges were flashing in a car that was traveling at race speed.
"You know things break on these cars," Earnhardt said. "And it's real easy to have hindsight and say 'man you know that was pretty simple'. When the motor quits running you don't really know why. You just have to diagnose it. It took us more than a few seconds. I couldn't coast past pit road if it was something I couldn't fix in the car we were going to be stalled on the track and lose a ton of laps that way anyways."
But that wasn't all that happened.
Because Earnhardt's gauges were off and his car had no power, he sped coming down pit road and was issued a pass-through penalty.
Earnhardt's crew chief Steve Letarte called his driver in for new tires while he was serving the pass-through - something not allowed by the NASCAR rulebook. Teams are not permitted to gain any advantage while serving a pit road penalty and must completely pass through pit road without stopping.
Earnhardt said he was familiar with the rule but Letarte wasn't. Thus Earnhardt was issued yet another pass-through penalty, resulting in Earnhardt making a total of three pit stops under green, leaving him four laps down all because Earnhardt wasn't able to flip to his backup battery.
Despite two-consecutive races with bad finishes, Earnhardt is still off to the best start of his career. The past two weekends have done little to darken his optimism and Earnhardt still finds himself in sixth place in the championship standings, 30 points ahead of the Chase cutoff.
"It's been kind of rough these past few weeks but we had a really good car tonight," Earnhardt said. "If we were running bad and having these kinds of nights, we would have a hard time making that Chase. But running good will eventually turn things back around for us. We will get going. We have a lot of confidence."