The Rock presents challenge for Earnhardt Jr. By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 18, 1999) Dale Earnhardt Jr. is always up for a good challenge. And there aren't many race tracks around the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division ...
The Rock presents challenge for Earnhardt Jr. By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 18, 1999) Dale Earnhardt Jr. is always up for a good challenge. And there aren't many race tracks around the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division circuit that present more of one to Earnhardt Jr. than North Carolina Speedway.
While he mastered several race tracks last season on his way to the NASCAR Busch Series championship, "The Rock" certainly wasn't one of them. He finished 16th and 14th, at the two respective races at the 1.017-mile oval, uncharacteristic of Earnhardt Jr.'s phenomenal first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series.
The driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet will try to turn that around this Saturday in the ALLTEL 200. Bud Pole Qualifying for Saturday's event is set for Friday at 1 p.m. ET.
"I'm not going to make any grandiose predictions, because I'm still trying to learn this track," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It seems like each time I go there I get a little bit better handle on what I need to do to get around this race track.
"It is one of the tracks that really challenges my ability as a driver. I like that. It makes me think, concentrate and really feel what my car is doing."
His father, Dale Earnhardt, is a three-time winner at Rockingham in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. But even the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion can't count the facility among his more successful tracks in an illustrious career.
Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet team are coming off a rough start to the 1999 season. He crashed during the final hour of the last practice prior to last Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway. The team was forced to use its backup car for the race, and he was forced to start from the back of the field.
Earnhardt Jr. slowly made his way through the field and was in second place when he crashed into Lyndon Amick on a restart following a caution. Amick had transmission problems and missed a gear.
Eventually, Earnhardt Jr. was able to continue, but the damage was done, and he wound up finishing 14th in last year's season-opener, he crashed and finished a disappointing 37th, so last Saturday's effort was a bit encouraging from that standpoint.
"What a way to start the year," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I can say we finished better than we did last year. So things are already looking up for this year."
Source: NASCAR Online