BUSCH: Kerry Earnhardt - A driver to Watch

Kerry Earnhardt No. 40 Channellock Chevrolet By Shawn A. Akers LAS VEGAS (March 1, 1999) If there's one thing Kerry Earnhardt has discovered in his short stint in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, it's the law of ...

Kerry Earnhardt No. 40 Channellock Chevrolet

By Shawn A. Akers

LAS VEGAS (March 1, 1999) If there's one thing Kerry Earnhardt has discovered in his short stint in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, it's the law of territoriality.

Nobody, with the exception of maybe your brother or a teammate, is going to give you an inch on the race track. And at times, not even that much is offered.

As his brother, defending NASCAR Busch Series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., did before him, Kerry Earnhardt, the driver of the No. 40 Channellock Chevrolet and eldest son of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt, is undergoing a major learning curve in his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series.

And like his younger sibling, he's taken his lumps early on in the year.

Kerry has been involved in accidents at both Daytona and Rockingham -- where he also crashed a car in practice -- to open the 1999 season, relegating him to finishes of 20th and 43rd at those respective tracks.

"It's not that you're looking to get anything given to you in racing, but you've got to watch who's going to give you room when you're on the outside, inside or wherever, or will they cut you off," he said. "A lot of people look at it like, well, you wouldn't think after running Late Models as many years as I did that the Busch Series would be that big of a change. But, there's a whole lot to learn. It's a different ballgame.

"These guys up here play for keeps, and I've got a lot to learn about it still. I've still got a lot to learn about the race tracks and the Busch cars themselves, let alone the competition. I think everything is coming along well so far, but it's a long season. We're going to take our lumps, and we're going to have our share of successes, too."

In order to have those successes, however, Kerry said he's had to do a lot of observing, and he's had to do a lot of homework.

"I'm learning a lot of stuff pretty quick, shocks and things like that," Kerry said. "In Late Models, you really didn't mess around a whole lot with shocks: You just went every weekend (and raced). Now, you have to change shocks for every race and prepare it to match up with whichever race track you go to. There's a lot of learning about the cars and the setups and stuff that I'm picking up as I go along."

Dale Jr. got off to a rocky start a year ago, then turned on the afterburners and won seven races en route to winning the championship in his first full season on the circuit.

Kerry, who made three NASCAR Busch Series starts in 1998, said he doesn't expect a dream season in 1999 like his younger brother enjoyed a year ago, but he expects to be able to put the No. 40 Chevrolet up front more than a few times.

Kevin Lepage was able to take the Doug Taylor-owned Chevrolet to Victory Lane once last season, in the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway last August.

"I guess I was in the right position at the right time to land this ride," Kerry said. "And we think we're going to do some really good things this year. I've gotten a lot of advice from both Dad and Dale, and they've really tried to help me out a lot. If I'm at the track and I have a problem at a certain point on the track, I'll go talk to him (Dale Jr.) and he'll give me some advice. It helps quite a bit."

Kerry will make his first career start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Saturday when the NASCAR Busch Series heads west to participate in the Sam's Town 300. His biggest priority, he said, is first to avoid trouble and to finish the race with the car in one piece.

But, he said, he also hopes to shake off the demons of the first two races of the season and post his first career NASCAR Busch Series top-10 finish.

"We're really looking forward to going to Vegas, and hopefully, Lady Luck will turn around for us," Kerry said. "They're all working hard in the shop to get the cars repaired that were torn up at Daytona and Rockingham. We're just trying to get back on the road again. I think we're ready to go."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kevin Lepage , Kerry Earnhardt