A tight handling condition wasn't enough to keep Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of the top ten in the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but contact on pit road meant he had to settle for eleventh place in the 33rd race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Earnhardt had looked good for a place inside the top ten until the incident while exiting the pits on lap 290, when he was sandwiched between the Dodge of Kurt Busch and the Ford of eventual winner Carl Edwards.
While the other two escaped relatively unscathed, the damage to the #88 Chevrolet Impala meant Earnhardt dropped back in the closing stages of the race and he was forced to settle for eleventh place rather than the possible top six he had expected.
“We got banged around on pit road, man,” he said. “The #2 had somebody on the outside of him and the #99 was coming out of his stall, I think that hurt probably the worst and knocked the toe around. The fender is all tore up on it. I am just frustrated. We should have run sixth or seventh there. We work too hard to run like that, but I don't know what we could have done differently. I couldn't anticipate what was going to happen on pit road or do anything different.”
Despite his own disappointment however, Earnhardt praised fellow Chevrolet driver Jimmie Johnson for a fine comeback drive to take second place and tipped the current Chase points leader to make it three titles in a row.
"Jimmie and the #48; they are a good team man,” he said. “They are going to win the championship. They are the best team in this sport. They have been the best team for three years.”