MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Shortly after making contact and causing Dale Earnhardt Jr. to spin five laps into Sunday’s STP 500, David Ragan was asked on his radio channel if would need an escort to leave Martinsville Speedway because of the upset fans.
There was no response.
A few hours later, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Ragan didn’t have anything to worry about.
“He’s fine,’’ Earnhardt said after finishing 14th. “David and I were riding together (in a pickup truck) in driver intros. He just had a new kid. He’s in a good place and happy.’’
As for what happened, Earnhardt said: “I was on the outside, and I saw a couple of guys before he got there really push into that corner. I remember being tight in practice and I thought, ‘Man, maybe everybody is just a little bit tighter than they thought they would be.’ He drove in there and just pushed. He didn’t really mean to do it. He just barely touched me. It was just enough to cut the tire.’’
Earnhardt lost a lap because of the incident and going to pit road. It took more than 300 laps before he got that lap back.
“I was taking it easy,’’ Earnhardt said. “That time when I got the lucky dog, it was a long green flag run and I sat there and ran real easy and kept the left rear on it and (Carl Edwards) burned the left rear off and we passed him. I was trying to take care of the left rear all day. Right at the end of the race we were running as hard as we could.’’
Earnhardt also wasn’t flustered with where he finished because of how he ran.
“This is the kind of deal where you’ve got to kind of take what you can get,’’ he said. “It’s a long season, we’ll just stick these points in our pocket in case we need them, in case we don’t win any races this year, but we’re running good, had good speed in the car and (crew chief Greg Ives) said we were top-five times all day.’’