Dale Jr. says he's already "overachieved" this weekend at Atlanta

Starting 12th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race may not sound exciting, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. believed he “overachieved.”

Dale Jr. says he's already "overachieved" this weekend at Atlanta
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

In the 18 races he ran last season before sitting out with a concussion, Earnhardt had only made it to the final round of knockout qualifying two on non-restrictor-plate tracks.

He’s already halfway to last season’s total in his first qualifying session on a non-plate track.

“I know we are pretty pumped up. We have historically been terrible in qualifying, so me and Greg (Ives, crew chief) sat down this winter and talked about some ways that we could set some much more attainable goals and achieve those and get some confidence,” Earnhardt said.

“I just have no confidence in myself or what the car can do in qualifying. I always race really well. So, we are going to try to work on my confidence and our qualifying package, but we overachieved today for the goals that we set starting out the season.

“That feels great.”

Will qualifying performance carry over to the race?

Qualifying has never been one of Earnhardt’s strong suits, but generally when he does qualify well, he also performs well in the race. His last pole came in the 2013 season although he has never won in 13 career starts from the pole position.

In the 2015 season, in his first season working with Ives, Earnhardt started in the top-10 in 14 of 36 races. In 2014, in his final season working with former crew chief, Steve Letarte, Earnhardt started in the top-10 in 10 of 36 races.

“We will try not to get too greedy and keep working on our confidence over the next several weeks and try to move those goals up as we go,” Earnhardt said. 

“That is kind of how we did it when we started with Steve (Letarte) with my racing in general was set some reachable goals, don’t go out there and put pressure on yourself to get first every time.”

In 29 career races at Atlanta, Earnhardt has only won once (2004 spring race) but he finished second in this race one year ago.

“We are really happy today, this is one of my favorite tracks,” he said. “The car was a lot of fun to drive each run in qualifying and hopefully it is just as good and fun to drive Saturday and Sunday.”

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