One famous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver was brutally honest about his performance during a recent race weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr. opened up to his listeners on his Dirty MO Radio show saying that his race performance issues started on Saturday during practice and that things were “awful.”
Earnhardt was referring to the race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway for the first race in the Challenger Round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Chase. The No. 88 team faced issues during practice and those issues followed the driver into the Sunday race.
"We don't practice well. We never do but we always race well. Even if we practice decent, I know it's going to be a great race. Because we always race just fine. We just don't practice, don't qualify well. I don't know why that is. Wish I had an answer for you but trust me, it's an unpleasant experience to have to struggle through practice and worry whether that's a reflection of how the race is going to go."
Earnhardt stayed up front near the top ten during the race but that position faded to an 11th place finish. Apparently that finish was one that Earnhardt worked hard to get as he lambasted his own performance and the team’s “rhythm.”
"To be honest, Saturday was awful," Earnhardt said. "We weren't anywhere we needed to be. We were about two-tenths off of the guys that I thought were going to run well. Two-tenths is a chunk of time, so I was getting very worried. - The third and final practice we had all kinds of problems with the engine and the spark plug. And then we went out there and preceded to stink it up and run all kinds of terrible laps."
Praise for Effort
Despite the frustration that Earnhardt felt with the overall performance of his car heading into the race at Chicagoland the driver still pointed out the efforts of his crew chief and team. Even though the car started off the mark and practice was not what he expected the driver pointed out that his team worked hard during the race to make things better.
Earnhardt said the car started off as a 25th place car but the hard work by Crew Chief Steve Letarte and the team turned it into a 5th place car. Because of the overall team effort to make a bad car better during the MyAFibStory.com 400 Earnhardt has hopes that things will be better in New Hampshire this weekend.
"I want it to be good on Saturday. I want to run Saturday and go, 'Man we got a nice car, we got a good car.' "
Going for the Lobster
The next race in the Challenger round of the Championship Chase is at New Hampshire this weekend for the running of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The trophy for winning at the track is a huge Lobster. It’s a trophy the Earnhardt would like to have. Even if he does not notch a win he knows that a solid performance at the front is needed.
"Maybe this first round we can get by with finishing 11th, but Round 2 you are not going to make it. I know that. We need to improve a little bit there."
That might be a tall order for Earnhardt as according to the numbers New Hampshire is not his best track. Over his Sprint Cup career his average finish has been around the 15th position.