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Tough love leads to improved results for Earnhardt
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BRISTOL, Tenn.Crew chief Lance McGrew didn’t hold back the tough love with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday.
The first snipe came after Junior complained about a loose car following pit stops during the fifth caution on Lap 205. McGrew replied, “Yes, but you're eight positions better than you were.”
When the seventh caution was called on Lap 324, the No. 88 was up to sixth and was busted by NASCAR for “excessive speed entering the pits” and was forced to drop back to 26th. McGrew coached his driver with a “lots of laps man, we can get this back.”
But Earnhardt sounded dejected on the radio. He was furious at the sanctioning body and its pit-road scoring system.
"Well, anyhow. To get busted at Bristol for (expletive) speeding by what-the-(expletive)-ever it was and when I didn’t (expletive) gain nothing on nobody, it’s not the way it should be," exclaimed Earnhardt. "There should be a different way of doing it. You bust your (expletive) to get up there. Now they can’t be (expletive) (expletive) about every (expletive) little nitpickin' (expletive) thing. We’re out here racing our (expletive) off."
And with Earnhardt deep in traffic, he radioed the car was “pushing like a truck.”
That’s when McGrew let loose.
“Don’t lay down on me, bud,” McGrew screamed.
“I can’t lay down here,” Earnhardt replied. “This is Bristol. I don’t ever (freakin’) lay down. Don’t ever say that again on the radio. Don’t need the whole world hearing that.”
While little was said between driver and crew chief following the heated exchange, Earnhardt collected himself and salvaged a seventh-place finish that enabled him to jump five positions to eighth in the point standings.
Although Earnhardt was not available for comment after the race, team owner Rick Hendrick seemed pleased with the No. 88 team’s improvement.
“They’ve worked really hard,” Hendrick said. “Lance and Dale have great chemistry. I think if you listen to them on the radio, they’re working well together.
“Dale had a great car. He would have been in the top five or had a real shot at it himself had he been able not to have that speeding penalty.”