Earnhardt Jr, new crew starting to click

Earnhardt Jr, new crew starting to click

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and new crew chief Pete Rondeau haven't found the speed DEI Chevy's are known for, but they have found the rapport crucial for a successful race team. Earnhardt announced last season that family members Tony Eury, Jr. and Tony...

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and new crew chief Pete Rondeau haven't found the speed DEI Chevy's are known for, but they have found the rapport crucial for a successful race team. Earnhardt announced last season that family members Tony Eury, Jr. and Tony Eury, Sr. and several other members of the No. 8 Chevy team would swap with the No. 15 of teammate Michael Waltrip.

Dale Earnhardt Jr..
Photo by Motorsport.com.
"One of the things I like about Pete (Rondeau) is he gives me a lot of respect," Earnhardt said. "When we talk we both listen to what each other have to say. He has a similar demeanor to me.it's been a really nice off season with the change we made. It took a lot of stress away from me."

The change was something long talked about in the garage, but still a bit of a surprise from a team who won six races in 2004.

Earnhardt knows that his biggest hurdle this year is going to be working with a new team and finding the communication that will help him vie the No. 8 Chevy for a championship. So far, at Daytona testing Earnhardt has been low on the speed chart, only 29th fastest in Tuesday morning's session.

"We are not really that fast, we are struggling real bad today," said Earnhardt.

Earnhardt is the defending winner of the Daytona 500 and remains optimistic about his chances for the DEI dominance at DIS to reemerge in 2005.

"I anticipated that we might struggle a little bit in qualifying," said Earnhardt. "I think we'll draft fine and race well. I don't know why but I thought that we might not qualify well, but we might. It's still a long way to go. We really don't have the car tied down or in the proper trim.from the look of the cars we have together, I am pretty happy."

Dale Earnhardt Jr..
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.
Earnhardt mounted a championship charge in 2004 but fell short. He left the first race of the chase first in points and won two races (Talladega, Phoenix) during that ten race period. But, three finishes of 23rd or worse relegated him to a fifth place result in year end standings.

"It's frustrating that we kept right there with Kurt (Busch) for a couple of races and then faltered at Martinsville," Earnhardt said. "Then I got myself crashed at Atlanta. Looking at the tape, though, it was both of our faults. It's frustrating that I could have avoided those situations. I think we could have run better at Martinsville. We did five races in a row in the top five and then went there and acted like we'd never been there before.

"Those things could have gone a different way and we would have been in a different position. We still wouldn't have won the way we ran at Homestead; we ran terrible. We had six wins, which was awesome. I did think back on those races a couple of times and think of the things we could have done differently, but I was happy overall."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Michael Waltrip