Earnhardt Jr., Labonte, Andretti, Park complete test session at Sears Point Raceway SONOMA, Calif. (Wednesday, April 26) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his first trip to Sears Point Raceway this week for a NASCAR Winston Cup Test Session, and he...
Earnhardt Jr., Labonte, Andretti, Park complete test session at Sears Point Raceway
SONOMA, Calif. (Wednesday, April 26) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his first trip to Sears Point Raceway this week for a NASCAR Winston Cup Test Session, and he won't soon forget it.
Earnhardt Jr., who was joined in the Tuesday-Wednesday session by Bobby Labonte, John Andretti and Steve Park, survived several spins on the twisting 10-turn, 1.94-mile road course and came away with much-needed experience. NASCAR comes to Sears Point Raceway June 22-25 for the Save Mart/Kragen 350.
"I tried to take it relatively easy when I first got out there but I found that it's a pretty difficult course to get around. My father told me it would be," said Earnhardt Jr., who drives the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. "I just tried to learn as much as I could over these two days so that I'd be better prepared come June."
Earnhardt Jr. turned one of his best laps in the Wednesday morning session at 1 minute, 13.4 seconds. Park reported the fastest time of the session at 1:12.12, followed by Andretti (1:12.55) and Labonte (1:13.1). Andretti has placed third the last two years at Sears Point, while Labonte was 27th a year ago.
"This is a difficult track but each year you come here you get a little better," Andretti said. "You just have to be patient."
Said Labonte: "This is a tough place. I don't know if you can ever master it. We'll probably come back with almost the same setup as last year and do the best we can."
Earnhardt Jr. prepared for the test session by using a simulator, but still found the terrain tough. He twice suffered spins exiting Turn 7, both times landing in the gravel trap.
"That's O.K. We spun out six times testing for Watkins Glen (in the Busch Grand National Division) and still won the race," he said. "This place is just a lot more technical. This course requires a lot more skill than any other road course I've been on."
Boris Said, who won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Sears Point in 1998, served as a personal coach to both Earnhardt Jr. and Park during the session.