After qualifying on the pole for his first time ever at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had high hopes for his last race there. Fans knew Talladega was probably Junior’s best chance at a win in what had been a disappointing farewell season. He’s won there six times.
He couldn’t make it seven.
After starting from the front, bad timing on a pit stop forced him to the back of the pack.
As Earnhardt and a large group of cars was entering the pits, there was a wreck behind them that closed pit lane, closing it and forcing any car that pitted to take a penalty.
Later in the race, Earnhardt again got hit with a penalty as he entered the pits too fast. At that point, the day was looking to be just another disappointment on Junior’s road to retirement.
However, Dale wasn’t done. He fought back to the front in the final stages of the race.
After a few late cautions, “The Big One” finally struck. Junior was involved but just barely escaped with his car intact.
After barely avoiding two more wrecks, Earnhardt looked destined to have his best race on the biggest stage.
The fans erupted in cheers each time he emerged unscathed, but there was still a lot of work to be done.
“I don’t know if I’ve used up all my luck or not,” Junior said during the final red flag.
Ultimately, it was not meant to be and he fell short, finishing seventh. But Junior Nation will always remember the show he put on in his final race at Talladega.