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SHORT LAPS
ELIZABETH MCGARR
June 06, 2011
What a Gas
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June 06, 2011

Short Laps

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What a Gas

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came within a few drops of fuel of winning his first race in nearly three years, running out of gas on the back straightaway of the final lap at Charlotte on Sunday night. He coasted around Turn 4 before Kevin Harvick passed him for the lead. Junior wound up seventh. "We took a calculated risk," said crew chief Steve Letarte, who is in his first season with Earnhardt, of the decision not to refuel before the green-white-checker finish. "It didn't pay off." Earnhardt and Letarte have six top 10s this season; in 2010 Dale Jr. had just eight in total. "It was a long race and a really hard race," a worn-out but optimistic Earnhardt said in the garage after finishing the 4½-hour marathon. "We ran really, really good tonight. The wins are going to come; we've just got to keep working."

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