FORT WORTH, Texas -- The national crisis that would be a winless 2013 Sprint Cup Series season for Dale Earnhardt Jr. almost came to an end once again Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson just got in the way. Again.
For the third time this season, Junior finished second to Johnson. It happened in the first race of the season at Daytona, at Dover in September and Sunday, as Junior, nor anyone else, could come close to the speed that Johnson and his team had.
Johnson led 255 of the race's 334 laps. But Junior, who started seventh, was also up front for nearly the entire day.
"The Chicago deal is regrettable," Junior said. "We'd love to go back and do that over again, but as soon as that happened, we really changed our aproach and it was more about trying to win a race."
"Winning a race would really lift all the team's spirits. You work all season long not to go winless and not getting to go to victory lane. So I know how much the guys want the win on the team, so that's what we're working for now."
The Chicago deal that he refers to is when he blew an engine in the Chase's opening race, which left him 53 points out of the lead. Now, with two races remaining, Junior's only lost nine additional points to the lead, thanks to six top 10s in the succeeding seven races.
But there's still that win lingering. After winning at Michigan last year to break a four year winless drought, Junior's too close to have another streak like that, right?
"I think it's a matter of being close. You know, it's not -- we're not running second by making mistakes," he said. "We're not giving away wins. So I feel like we're just really getting close to cracking through and just trying to maintain the momentum with two races to go is going to be tough. But that's what we're focusing on."
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