$3.50 from a win in the Coke 600

Dale Wilkerson                                                       May 2011

Junior Nation was Amped up during the closing laps of the Coca Cola 600 Sunday night.
As Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne chased each other during the final laps, attempting to save fuel while hoping to score a win, Dale Earnhardt Jr. closed in hoping to score his first win since June of 2008.
Could he have saved more gas in the closing laps? Perhaps, but who could blame him for dropping the hammer as he closed in on both Biffle and Kahne. Who knows; if Jimmy Johnson had not blown his engine with four laps to go, Junior may have charged past both drivers for the win as their tanks ran dry.
Biffle was among the drivers that chose to pit for gas during the caution laps. As the green flag waved for the final restart, Kahne was the first driver to falter as his Red Bull Toyota ran out of steam on the re-start. Junior charged ahead and with all the confusion behind him due to drivers dodging the spinning car of Jeff Burton, he looked destined for a return to victory lane.
The cheers of the fans could be heard over the roar of the cars as Junior drove off turn two on the final lap. Many fans hoped he was just feathering the gas pedal as he appeared to ease off the throttle half way down the back stretch. But the reality of what just one gallon of gasoline, roughly $3.50 for low grade unleaded currently in Upstate South Carolina, would have meant for Junior on that final lap.
Junior did all he could to maintain the momentum needed for his car to coast to the finish line, which resulted in a seventh place finish. With his sixth top ten finish of the season, Junior now stands in fourth place in the points.
Many thought he would be very disappointed after the race, but Dale Jr took the high road complementing his crew for their hard work and the quality of his race cars.
A win at his home track would have been nice but to see how Dale Earnhardt Jr. handled the interviews post race shows that this team will soon catch that elusive checkered flag, which could be the first of several this season.