Birthday boy insists, "We're going to win this race."
CONCORD, N.C, -- How confident was Dale Earnhardt Jr. after second practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway?
Confident enough to call his shot at his home track on Friday.
“We're going to win this race,” Earnhardt said. “I really got a good feeling about it. This is what we've got to do anyway to try to get further points and try to win the championship.
“I just got a good feeling. The car's been great all weekend. Attitude's good. Everybody's excited. The team’s working well together. The car’s responding well. The car ran some good laps in practice and felt real good.”
The last time a driver showed that much moxy was Denny Hamlin at New Hampshire in the fall of 2012. Hamlin started 32nd and led 193 of 300 laps before he won the race.
Picking up speed
Earnhardt posted the 11th fastest lap in second practice with the seventh best 10-consecutive lap average. He was 12th quick on the speed chart in Happy Hour with the second best 10-consecutive lap average.
Leading 45 laps at Kansas fueled Earnhardt’s mojo last weekend. Despite finishing 39th, it was the first time since Michigan in August that the No. 8 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy raced at the point.
Since Sunday, it’s been a week-long celebration of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver’s 40th birthday beginning with a surprise party on Monday night.
I just was so happy with the way that car ran last week and how fast we were.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Definitely being 40 has been an awesome time,” Earnhardt said. “This week has been full of surprises and pleasant stuff happening left and right. I think that probably has a little bit to do with my disposition. I felt like as soon as what happened last week happened I think that I sort of had to switch into this mode and get ready for our opportunity here this weekend.
“I just was so happy with the way that car ran last week and how fast we were. I feel like we have a great opportunity this weekend. I think I would feel that way no matter what week it was. No matter whether I was having my birthday or not, but we have had a good week. I guess there are still some surprises to come, but we will hopefully win the race and that will be the biggest surprise.”
Earnhardt is right. A win at Charlotte would be unexpected. In 29 starts at CMS, Earnhardt has posted just 11 top 10s and only three have been earned since he joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.
At 40, Earnhardt has plenty of good years ahead of him on the track and off.
I’ve still got a lot of fun stuff I want to do.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I’ve still got a lot of fun stuff I want to do," Keselowski said. "I’m like aging in literal years faster than I am physically and mentally. I feel like I just have a lot of things that I’ve yet to accomplish, not only in racing, but in life in general, lot of fun that I’m not done having. I feel great.
"You kind of reflect a little bit and you think about how lucky everything has worked out and how fortunate. What a hell of a deal… I mean I’ve had so much fun. Done a lot of great things and been a lot of crazy places and have had some fun times. Hopefully, the next 10 will be just as good and we will just keep going.”