Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted to qualify for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race based on his talent rather than his popularity.
On Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Earnhardt got his wish. He dominated the preceding Sprint Showdown by leading all 40 laps to advance into the All-Star Race.
Then, much to the crowd's pleasure, he held off Marcos Ambrose in the fourth segment of the All-Star Race.
But when teams made their mandatory pit stops before the final 10-lap shootout, Earnhardt acknowledged that "the shenanigans coming on to pit road for that last segment was kind of unnecessary."
Those shenanigans included difficulty in traffic entering and exiting the pits, Earnhardt being blocked by the cars of Mark Martin and Ryan Newman coming down pit road and drivers merely stopping in their stalls before returning to the track instead of undergoing any service.
Still, Earnhardt lined up fourth and finished a solid fifth - his fourth top five in the All-Star Race and a confidence booster for next week's Coca-Cola 600.
"I think we showed what we are capable of doing here next weekend," Earnhardt said. "We are probably going to bring the same car. We have a couple of ideas on how to make the car even faster, especially for qualifying, that I hope will work out. I am real pleased with our effort.
"These races are little sprints, and you really depend on the team to put the car out on the line ready to go, ready to take off, you can't really wait for the car to come in or anything like that. Those guys did that all night. They built a great car. I had a lot of fun."