Dale Earnhardt Jr. hated All-Star format, but was happy to finish strong
While many drivers left Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway angry and confused by the new race format, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among those pleased by his run.
Thanks in large part to strategy from crew chief Greg Ives, Earnhardt brought the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet home third behind the Team Penske Fords of race-winner Joey Logano and runner-up Brad Keselowski.
And given that Earnhardt has struggled in recent weeks, third was a solid effort.
"For our team it’s a good step in the right direction to get more competitive," said Earnhardt, who earlier in the week addressed his team’s struggles in his weekly podcast.
"A lot was made about the comments I made in the podcast on Monday," said Earnhardt. "I just want the team to succeed and really like the crew and Greg, and I think we can do it. We did it last year. We started this year off really awesome and hit a little rough patch, but this week was a great opportunity for us to learn, and I think we did."
Earnhardt admitted he wasn’t sure how Ives parlayed strategy to getting to the front, but was glad it worked out.
"It was pretty good strategy by Greg," said Earnhardt. "I don’t even remember what he did, but somehow or another we ended up in the top five. I don’t know how we passed all them people, but once I got toward the front, the car started obviously driving better in the cleaner air, and right before the last segment, right at the end of the second segment, I thought we had a great car."
As for NASCAR’s new format for the All-Star race, like many of his peers, Earnhardt was not a fan.
"I just think they ought to go back to the original formats that they started with that are simple and make the cars race better, you know?" he said. "Gimmicks and all that stuff, trying to trick up the race is going down the wrong path. The way to make the racing exciting is to make the cars exciting."