Like all of the competitors in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. faced some unique challenges from the high winds and sandstorms at the 1.5-mile track.
And although Earnhardt was not able to put the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Victory Lane, he turned in a solid performance, finishing eighth and moving up four spots to 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings.
Afterward, Earnhardt said navigating the track was tricky, due to the high winds that gusted as high as 50 miles per hour.
"I think that affected all the cars and made the cars much harder to drive," said Earnhardt. "We had a huge wind blowing across the race track up into the wall off of (Turn) 2 and that made it difficult getting down into the bottom of Turn 3. It was a challenge. And you could definitely tell when the gusts were picking up."
Weather or not, Earnhardt continued to sing the praises of NASCAR’s new-for-2016 low-downforce package and thinks the sanctioning body might be able to do trim even more downforce from the Cup cars.
"The one thing that I really like is I can drive up to guys with that little spoiler on the back," said Earnhardt. "I’m not really stuck behind people like we used to be. A lot of the drivers are wanting to keep going in this direction and even further. I wasn’t really so sure about that but now I feel like that might be a good move to go even less downforce.
"I don’t know if the blade needs to get shorter, but these things are sealed off on the ground," said Earnhardt. "There’s a lot we could do to the bodies and stuff to take some downforce out of them. I’m sure NASCAR is looking at that. We can’t just keep taking the blade off, but we could probably take a little of an inch off and not really tell the difference."