"My temperatures were going up, but I guess not as bad as Brad's," Earnhardt said. "I had a little bit of temperature, but nothing to worry about. We definitely had some red gauges, but they were still within good reason to stand on it and give it hell.
"I looked in the mirror and saw Brad didn't have his debris off, either. We were both going to chug along there and see who made it."
And now the pressure is really off for Earnhardt, as two victories guarantees him a Chase spot as long as he stays healthy and in the top 30 in points.
He even joked that his first win this year -- at the season-opener in Daytona -- already paid the dividend of not needing to test for the road-course races.
"Oh, yeah, we started out the season when we won at Daytona, man, it made the rest of the year a lot more relaxing, a lot easier, less stress and it makes it fun, because you can just go to the race track and just race and not worry about points," he said. "We went to -- we used to -- last year and every damned year we would test at those road courses, Road Atlanta and here and there, and work ourselves to death trying to figure out how to go faster at a road course, knowing damned good and well I wasn't going to run well because I don't know how to drive them.
"But I can run OK at the Glen every once in a while, but Sonoma -- it's embarrassing, man -- I haven't finished in the top 11 there ever. We just decided not to work that hard and just go there without a test and wing it, and we got teammates to test it and we'll see what they did and liked and we can go there with an attitude of it's not -- we don't have to dig and gouge for every single position and we don't have to worry if it's a total disaster or if it doesn't work out, if we get spun out on the last lap.
"We can just go have fun."
The rest of the top 10 in Sunday's race was largely made up of drivers out to have fun.
Previous winners Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin came in third and fourth, respectively. Winless rookie Kyle Larson was fifth. Larson, who won Saturday's ARCA Series race at Pocono, said he finished better than he expected, even if he still may need to use that new Camaro he bought to become a better shifter.
"To be honest with you, I did miss a couple shifts," Larson said. "Yeah, just twice, which is a lot better than probably it would have been if I didn't practice shifting a whole lot. But yeah, I mean, surprisingly there was only two times, was when I was battling people when I was pretty excited.
"I don't know, I thought it was a good day.
Now Earnhardt and the rest of the Sprint Cup circus head to Michigan, a place where Earnhardt has earned two of his 21 victories. Is back-to-back wins in the cards, such as his teammate Jimmie Johnson pulled off at Charlotte and Dover the previous two races?
Earnhardt just grinned and said confidently, "I don't want to be the new 48, I want to be the new 88."