Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s third place finish carried him up to the fifth spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. After a mediocre finish to the regular season, Earnhardt was able to secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and began his quest for a first Sprint Cup title on a positive note.
Despite his Chicagoland finish being helped by fuel mileage issues that impacted other drivers running ahead of him on the final lap, Earnhardt brings confidence into the Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and told the assembled media Friday morning his team made a statement last Monday:
HOW EXCITED DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO GET HEADING INTO HERE ABOUT YOUR STRENGTH LAST WEEK AND CHASE CHANCES?
“I think we made a pretty serious impact last week and we just kind of need to keep that momentum going. I like the race track and I like coming here racing; but, you never know what you are going to get. These races are always real competitive and the racing is always kind of aggressive. You kind of have to hope that you can put together a full day and the car will run well and track position is real important. It is difficult to pass here; but that is no real difference from any other place. We just have to work on qualifying that is the most important part that is hurting us. If we can get some better qualifying efforts and start closer to the front we would not have to work the whole race just to get in position to run well. As good as we ran the last run at Chicago, if we had of had track position all day long, we might have been able to win that race. Those are the opportunities that we let get by us because of how we struggle in qualifying.”
IS THIS THE HAPPIEST YOU HAVE BEEN IN TERMS OF BEING IN POSITION AND CONTENTION FOR THE CHASE? DOES THAT REAFIRM YOUR DECISION TO STAY WITH HENDRICK MOTOR SPORTS?
“I never doubted that I was in the wrong place or need to go somewhere else I felt pretty good, I felt lucky and fortunate to have the opportunity to work at Hendrick Motor Sports. When Rick (Hendrick, Owner) makes a commitment like he made with me. It makes you want to go out there and work hard and do the best job you can. Makes you want to make him proud. He is a good guy to be around; I learn a lot from him that is going to help me down the road in my life to make the decisions I have to make in life going forward. He is teaching me how to make those decisions. I think it has been a real positive thing for me to be around him, and to be around his employees and understand and learn how they do business and see how they go about doing what they are doing. It has had a good affect on me personally.”
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