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Dale Earnhardt Jr. at peace with rolling dice despite second-place finish

LAS VEGAS Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel and just missed out on his second victory in the first three races of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season.

He’s not all that upset about it.

Earnhardt finished second in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which gives him finishes of first, second and second to start the season and he is all but locked in a spot in the Chase.

Is there a better place than Las Vegas to roll the dice?

“We took a gamble and didn’t win the race, but it still worked in our favor to run second. It gave us a chance to win,” Earnhardt said. “It sucks to lose like that, but we can’t let that be a negative.

“We have got to go to Bristol and try to win there. The only way to be productive is to be positive. We have got to look at the positives in today and keep working toward our goal of winning some more races.”

As for the decision to try for the win rather than play it safe, Earnhardt emphasized he and his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team would never have taken the chance if not for the new Chase format.

A debris caution on Lap 221 brought most of the lead-lap cars down pit road for fuel, but Earnhardt, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin elected to remain on the track.

Edwards and Hamlin both made it to the finish, with Edwards finishing fifth and Hamlin 12th. Earnhardt remained in the lead until he ran out of fuel entering Turn 3 of the final lap.

“I think the way the new format is, nothing is perfect, right? But it definitely is showing it has tons of positives, and it’s better as far as entertainment for our sport,” Earnhardt said.

“Yeah, it gives us freedom, and it’s nice to have that freedom to do the things that we did, even though we knew our odds weren’t good.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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