After Chicagoland, conspiracy theorists took to Twitter claming that Earnhardt's engine blew up on purpose (so teammate Jeff Gordon could get a much-needed caution). Now – after Dover – some are wondering if Junior held back so teammate Jimmie Johnson could take the checkered flag.
Here's the thinking. During the final caution, Earnhardt was able to grab four tires … Johnson only took two. It was a seemingly big advantage for Earnhardt, who now had two tires that were more than 60 laps fresher than Johnson's.
Earnhardt, restarting fourth, needed less than half a lap to move up into second place. But that's where he would end up. There's been a lot of talk about "team orders" since Richmond. Some were wondering if that was the case here, as Johnson is in the title hunt and Earnhardt is not.