Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hopes that the No. 8 DEI Chevy team can build on the momentum of their third place finish at Daytona. While it wasn't his usual dominating performance on a restrictor plate track it was the finish this team needed to rebuild ...
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hopes that the No. 8 DEI Chevy team can build on the momentum of their third place finish at Daytona. While it wasn't his usual dominating performance on a restrictor plate track it was the finish this team needed to rebuild confidence.
Earnhardt has only two top-three results this year; both of them coming at Daytona. Seven finishes of 22nd or worse have all but deleted his name for the chase for the championship. Going into Chicago, Earnhardt is 16th in standings, 506 points behind the leader.
"It's hard to get excited about third place, but it was nice to get a podium finish," Earnhardt said. "I was real happy with the car my guys gave me, and just as much credit goes to the 15 team and Tony (Eury) Jr. They helped us a lot on the set-up. Michael (Waltrip) would've been right up there with us without the cut tire.
"That was unfortunate for him, but we'll all keep digging. It's the way it ought to be."
It is a different year for the 30-year-old Kannapolis, NC native. He is winless and has only led five laps all year. Critics and garage insiders have sighted everything from team changes to bad luck for Earnhardt's woes, but only one thing is for certain.
The No. 8 team has been in a major slump.
A nose-dive this team now hopes has ended. But, they are headed into a track where Earnhardt is inconsistent. In four starts, he has only one top- 10 and two finishes of 22nd or worse including a DNF.
"The biggest challenge at Chicago is getting good track position," said Earnhardt. "Because it's really hard to pass there. The further back you are, the more aero-push becomes a factor. We could do ourselves a favor by qualifying well. We'd be better if we could make it to the end in one piece.
"One time we were runnin' along and a chunk of metal came flying off of someone's car, and we ended up crashing. Last year we got caught up in someone else's mess, but still finished on the lead lap.
"An uneventful day is what we need."
If Earnhardt is to become in contention for the chase for the championship, consistent, uneventful race days are what are in order.
"We have to dig pretty deep here to see if we can't make some gains in the next couple of races," Earnhardt commented. "You never know. Before the Chase was around, there were a couple years I was racing in the Cup series where you didn't think that anybody wanted to win the thing, because it seemed that whoever got the lead would have a couple of weeks of trouble.
"It kept racing pretty tight."