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Monday Rundown: Dale Earnhardt Jr. rebounds from mistake to finish second

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. fell two laps down two laps into the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Good thing he had 498 more laps to make it up.

Earnhardt accidentally mashed the brake too hard to make sure his brakes were working that the car "thought" his throttle had stuck. It shut down the engine and Earnhardt had no power at the start.

But in a race in which there were 15 cautions, Earnhardt had more than enough time to stay out on old tires, take the wave-around when the leaders pitted, and find himself among the top 10. Restarting 10th, sixth and fourth in the final three restarts over the last 34 laps, Earnhardt ended up second.

While he made a solid comeback, Earnhardt is wondering a little bit about what to do in the future if the emergency engine shutoff engages again. It's designed to do it if the throttle sticks.

"If your throttle is stuck and you mash the brake to a certain -- you're going to mash the s--- out of that brake when the throttle sticks, it'll shut the motor off," Earnhardt said. "That's one of the two systems that you have to choose from in this sport.

"The other is a button on the steering wheel. I don't like the button on the steering wheel because when the throttle sticks, I ain't going to think mash a button. I'll be in the fence before it's over with. So the brake thing works too good."

Earnhardt said he wonders if he can make it slightly less sensitive.

"[I was] just warming the brakes up [and] I engaged that system to kill the throttle," Earnhardt said. "I was warming the brakes up like I always do, and apparently I applied too much pressure and it killed the motor.

"We'll work on that and maybe raise that threshold a little bit because I wasn't really using the brake that much."

At the time, Earnhardt's team thought it might have been a battery issue. Earnhardt actually needed to reset the electronic control unit for the fuel injection system. He came down pit road to do that -- something he actually didn't have to be on pit road to do.

"I probably could've done it on the track and saved ourselves a lot of trouble, but you don't know what's going on at that particular point, and you listen to the first thing anybody tells you when it comes to direction -- and the first thing that my spotter said was that if I need to pit, I need to come on now," he said.

If it sounds as if Earnhardt was unlucky, well he probably was. But he'll take that part as unlucky and the end of the race as lucky.

"We had about a 10th-place car," Earnhardt said. "We weren't really that good all day. We tried a setup that we've never really ran here before, just trying to learn a little something going forward, and we'll go home and science it out a little bit.

"We got real lucky the last three restarts to be on the outside line. We restarted 10th, sixth and fourth, and when you restart fourth you're typically going to come out in second place after that. I was hoping we didn't have any more cautions after that. So it was good. We'll take it."

Xfinity: Erik Jones wins as heats debut

Erik Jones won two races Saturday. The first was impressive in the sense he led all 50 laps of his Xfinity Series heat race.

The second was much more impressive as he passed leader Kyle Larson on a restart with three laps to go to capture the main event, earning a spot in the series' version of the Chase as well as the $100,000 bonus.

Jones got a little bit of knowledge from the heat race and then a ton of confidence from beating Cup regulars Larson and Jones teammate Kyle Busch on that late restart of the 200-lap main event.

It was the first of four races this year where Xfinity drivers will have heat races. The next comes this upcoming weekend at Richmond International Raceway.

Neither of the heat races had any drama -- no lead changes and no cautions in races that lasted less than 14 minutes apiece.

Brendan Gaughan got out of his car following the first heat and said it was "anticlimactic" for a Bristol event.

Jones said it was productive, and there is a theory the shorter main event was partly more exciting because teams had 10 minutes to tune on their cars after their heats.

"I learned a little bit about the track widening out and where we would be running in the feature," Jones said. "I really started to see just how high we were going to be running. ... I liked it. It was something different. It was something unique.

"It gave us a chance to work on our stuff before the race, which I thought was pretty helpful."

The heats didn't determine who was in the main event -- that was determined by the regular group qualifying -- but did determine the lineup for the main event and the four drivers eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

"That was a unique situation today -- Richmond, I think we're going to see a lot different," said JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier. "I think we'll see the heat races have more cautions and beating and banging.

"I think a lot of us have looked at it kind of the same in the fact that we can't afford to tear up race cars in a heat race, we can't afford to over-push it in the heat race."

Trucks: Ben Kennedy looks for new ride

Ben Kennedy won't return to Red Horse Racing for the remainder of the season after a three-race deal he had with the team ended after Martinsville.

Kennedy had driven for Red Horse in 2015 and finished ninth in the standings. He had a best finish this year of 11th at Martinsville.

The son of NASCAR vice chairwoman Lesa France Kennedy and nephew of NASCAR chairman Brian France, Ben hopes to continue racing.

"I thank them for their support since 2015 as I have enjoyed competing with them," Kennedy said in a news release. "However, I'm interested in pursuing other racing opportunities in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and possibly the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

"I love NASCAR racing, and I'm eager to continue to compete, learn and improve."