Blog Entry

Dale Earnhardt Jr. happy to be back in the pack

Posted on: February 22, 2012 2:24 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:01 pm
By Pete Pistone

  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Driver Of The #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, Stands
(Earnhardt Jr. is hoping to end his winless drought with a Daytona 500 victory Sunday - Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Count Dale Earnhardt Jr. among those drivers who have embraced NASCAR's new rule to limit the two car tango and encourage more pack drafting at Daytona.

Junior believes the return to a more traditional style of restrictor plate racing plays more to his strengths running at Daytona.

“Yeah, I would agree with that," Earnhardt said Wednesday at Daytona.  "I feel like I’m definitely more comfortable with this style.  I feel like I’m more in control of what is happening. In the (Budweiser) Shootout I felt like I was able to formulate a plan to get to the front and take the lead.  I would see something I wanted to do and try to go do it and it would happen. That was a good feeling.  I do feel more confident than I did coming down here and tandem drafting.  I never felt really great about that.  It is a completely different style of racing and it’s not what I enjoyed.  I definitely feel better about this."

But Earnhardt also realizes the two car draft is still going to be weapon in a driver's arsenal and expects it to play an important role in Sunday's Daytona 500.

"Still, tandem is going to win the race," he said.  "It won the Shootout and it will probably win every other race down here this week. For the most part, I feel like I can be in a better position with this style of racing coming into those last few laps.  Hopefully, find the right partner right at the right time like Kyle (Busch) did to win the Shootout and win my share of races down here.” 

Earnhardt is also very much aware that his winless drought is entering season number four in 2012. He understands how vital it is for his title chances as well as his team at Hendrick Motorsports that he finds a way to break into the win column this year, preferably sooner rather than later this weekend in Daytona.

“We lost a million dollars by not being in the winner’s circle program last year for the company," Earnhardt said. "They could use that money. There are just so many benefits to getting in the winner’s circle.  Not only will it help our team and validate what me and Steve (Letarte, crew chief) have been trying to do over the last couple of years.  It is the Daytona 500 the biggest race of the season; it would be pretty spectacular for me personally to win it. It would do so many other things that I can’t list right now for the team and the company going forward. It would be awesome.” 

Daytona Speedweeks

Since: Jan 16, 2012
Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:43 am

Dale Earnhardt Jr. happy to be back in the pack

I personally am ready to see Jr. back in the winners circle......hopefully numerous times this season.

Since: Mar 2, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:53 pm

Dale Earnhardt Jr. happy to be back in the pack

I am glad Jr likes it too. As a fan, its more exciting to me and thats what I pay for. Thank god that NASCAR has made a positive move which was to get rid of that boring tandom racing that has sucked over the last 2 years. Now I hope that Jr can get back into his groove and comfort zone. For those drivers who do ot like pack racing...its time to move on to a different career. Nascar has finally made a move back towards popularity and I for have missed it for around 5-10 years with the progressive popularity decline. NASCAR, Keep it moving in the right direction.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:52 pm

Of Course He Does

He's already proven he can't win by himself. Why wouldn't he welcome the chance to get a couple of clowns that still think his daddy was the best ever to run interference for him and hand him a win or two?  He has two seasons left, period, to prove he has actual talent or have his hand held across the finish line or he's out. Not that I care, really. Turning left isn't athletic anyway. I'll be tuned into gymnasts twirling a ribbon to see somebody with actual athletic prowess.

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