When Juan Pablo Montoya overdrove his suddenly ill-handling car and hit the wall in the waning laps of Sunday's Brickyard 400, he immediately slammed on his brakes to try to slow the car and get to pit road.
Unfortunately, two cars were in the way when he tried to come across the track – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Marcos Ambrose.
And despite what Earnhardt Jr. called a "great, great car," the No. 88 team was relegated to a 27th-place finish after the incident.
"I don't know how he got in the fence, but I wish he could have managed to get a little further clear of everybody when he was headed to the pits," Earnhardt Jr. said. "...I didn't even see him hit the wall. I just know he came flying across Marcos' hood in a dead hurry to stop the car and get to pit road, and I didn't have nowhere to go.
"I drove into the side of Marcos and probably screwed him up. I saw he had to pit and work on his car, so I'm sorry about that. Damn it, you know? I guess Juan was just frustrated."
Earnhardt Jr. took a hit in the point standings, dropping one spot to 14th. He's now 93 points outside a spot in the Chase.
"The finish is a bitch, but what are you going to do?" he said. "I can't help what happened to me out there. I didn't do it to myself this time. My crew was good and we made some good adjustments on the car and we actually had made it better. We're getting better. We're still missing a little bit, but we're getting better."
At the start of the race, Earnhardt Jr. said he was one of the best cars on the track, but when track conditions tightened his car, "we were really shit after that."
But crew chief Lance McGrew had the team take a spring rubber out of the left rear, and Earnhardt Jr. said, "Man, that thing was great" after the change.
Just prior to the Montoya incident, Earnhardt Jr. was running inside the top 15 and said he was competitive with Kurt Busch (who finished 10th) and Kasey Kahne (13th). But the Hendrick Motorsports driver said he didn't think his team was much better than where it was running when the wreck occurred.
"That's about as good as I think we are right there," he said. "We just gotta find a little bit more, but we're learning. If we keep having this kind of luck, we're not going to make the Chase, and that's just something we'll have to live with. But we'll keep working to try to make it."
Asked if he was worried about his Chase chances after a less-than-stellar result, Earnhardt Jr. shook his head.
"I got no reason to worry – it does what it does to it," he said. "That's pretty much how I feel about it. You know, it's disappointing, of course. But I ain't gonna damn worry about all that."