Dale Jr.: Working at Hendrick Motorsports a fun experience

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

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Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled in his first couple of seasons with Hendrick Motorsports, he enjoyed an excellent 2013 season and has had an even better 2014 so far. Earnhardt, who comes into Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway just a single marker behind NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Carl Edwards, said he’s enjoyed his time at Hendrick.

 "All those years as a young kid before I drove and then as a driver competing against them you always wonder what is the culture like?" Earnhardt said. "Then when you get behind there and see how they are working on their cars, how they set their cars up, for years you have wanted that access.  To finally have it it’s pretty mind blowing in certain areas.  It’s been a fun experience for me." 

Earnhardt said he remembered Hendrick as a formidable competitor from the days his father was racing for championships. "They seemed like they had so many resources and they had quite the dynamic when it came to drivers," Earnhardt said of Hendrick Motorsports. "It was just a team that always was going to be challenging for the win and challenging for championships, especially once Jeff (Gordon) got there they were almost unstoppable at that particular point in the ’90s.  Ever since really Jeff got there they have never fell off."

Much of the credit goes to team founder and owner Rick Hendrick, who this weekend will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the team’s first victory.

Kyle Busch claims the pole at Martinsville

"Obviously Rick has an influence on his employees," said Earnhardt. "Everybody really strives from the top to the bottom to give their best.  It’s a cliche but it’s so true when you actually get to work there and get behind closed doors and see the influence that he has just on individuals.  Everybody just pushes so hard to do something good every day.  It makes everybody else’s job that much easier.  It’s just good reflection of his influence on the company as a whole, but, yeah, it’s fun being a part of it."

Alas, the fun didn’t extend to qualifying for the STP 500, where Earnhardt was just 26th.