Based on Saturday's practice, Dale Earnhardt Jr. thought he had a potential winner in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
A miscue in the pits, however, put the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet off pit sequence from the majority of the field.
Earnhardt's crew had trouble with a lug nut on the right rear wheel during Earnhardt's first pit stop, under caution on Lap 32. Subsequently, Earnhardt brought the No. 88 to pit road off-sequence under yellow on Lap 55.
That move allowed Earnhardt to inherit the lead on Lap 114 during a cycle of green-flag stops, but he surrendered it after a pit stop on lap 130 and led only one lap thereafter -- under caution on Lap 202.
Nevertheless, Earnhardt earned a hard-fought sixth-place finish after losing fifth place to Jamie McMurray during an intense battle late in the race.
"I ran out of rear tires trying to hold him off," Earnhardt said. "Couldn't get the power down just off the corner, and he was a pretty fast car to begin with. ...
"Just happy to rebound from earlier on pit road and get a good finish. The car was fast as heck (Saturday in practice), one of the top three cars, I thought. Glad we were able to get a decent finish out of it. Just want to win one -- I'm trying hard."
Earnhardt hasn't been to Victory lane in his past 47 starts, dating to June 2012 at Michigan.