Dale Earnhardt Jr. said there may be some things he could have done differently to win last week's race at Martinsville Speedway – but taking out Kevin Harvick intentionally wasn't one of them.
"I didn't want to take him out under any circumstances," he told reporters Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. "I don't take out drivers or wreck people on purpose. I wanted to race him hard."
Earnhardt Jr. said he did attempt to get into Harvick's rear bumper and move the No. 29 car up the track, but Harvick didn't have much of a bumper left after earlier damage.
"So when I ran into him, it was like a pillow fight," said Earnhardt Jr., who ultimately finished second. "There wasn't much to it. He just drove off the nose of my car and went on his way."
After the race, some fans and media were critical of Earnhardt Jr. because they suggested he should have just dumped Harvick on purpose for the win – as some claimed his father would have done.
Earnhardt Jr. said he "didn't think that would have been the right thing to do."
"I wouldn't want anyone to do that to me, just take me completely out of the race – under any circumstances," he said. "I don't have a history of doing that."
As for those who thought otherwise?
"It's real easy to say that on the Internet," he said. "Really, on the Internet, it's easy to say a lot of things. Everybody knows how I race – I try to race respectful, and I want the same in return.
"If it's near the end of the race, I expect to run hard and be aggressive, and I expect the guys to run me hard and be aggressive, and I think that's kind of what went down this past weekend."
Earnhardt Jr. seemed almost apologetic for the flood of "He's back!" stories after his second-place finish, saying he knew many fans "don't really like having too many Dale Jr. stories out there."
"There was far too much discussion and commenting on the finish from the media," he said, somewhat sheepishly. "...That's a lot of exposure just to run second somewhere. Hopefully we can validate all that with a win soon."