NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be eliminated from winning the Championship during the 2014 season but that does not mean he's ready to quit.
And his crew chief, Steve Letarte says that his driver and team are not ready to 'lay down' on the season.
It's a shot across the bow for other drivers in the Cup series heading into the last four races of the 2014 season. Latarte, who moves to a new roll as an announcer for NBC starting in the 2015 season, says that there is still plenty of things his team can do and that includes winning!
One of those wins comes complete with a grandfather clock as a trophy and Latarte would like to bring it home. The hand crafted Grandfather clock is the signature trophy to drivers that win a race at Martinsville speedway.
"I can't think of a better way to rebound from getting kicked out of the Chase and proving to all of the guys that are advancing in the Chase that we're not just going to lay over for them," Latarte said, "And we want to go up there and win a clock."
First Win at Martinsville
In 2005 Latarte was sitting on the pit box for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team. In his first time as a crew chief at Martinsville he walked away a winner. Since then Latarte says he's been trying to find a way back to victory lane.
"Since 2005 I've been trying to figure out the elusive way to get back into Victory Lane. And I remember how he did it then," Letarte said. "The track has changed quite a bit. Double-file restarts have changed things."
He knows that racing at Martinsville comes down to the last laps as drivers vie for position on the famed short track. Latarte says he feels like Earnhardt will be able to put himself in a position to capture the checkered flag.
"Dale and I have been close," Letarte said. "We've had the lead there coming to the white, and our car just lost rear grip. We get a little loose into 3, and Harvick got by us. The race is won in the last 60 laps."
According to Latarte the plan for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Martinsville its to run hard and win but they may be using some added information to help out. The team made some tests at the speedway earlier in the year and the crew chief hopes it pays off.
Latarte says the memory of watching the No. 41 car driven by Kurt Busch blow the No. 88 team out of the race in the closing moments of the spring race is motivation. Both Earnhardt and Busch have been eliminated from the chase this season.
"We went up there as a company and tested a couple of months ago to try to improve our product there," Letarte said. "We did not take it lightly when the 41 outran us there in the spring. Really Martinsville comes down to the last 50 or 75 laps. You run 400
laps to stay in the top 10, to save your tires, save your brakes. It's a… patience tester."