Earnhardt ‘trying to be positive’ after drop back in points
Confidence is important for any race team and no one knows that more than Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Earnhardt has had an up-and-down season so far, with four second-place finishes, but eight finishes outside the top 10 in the last nine races, which has dropped him from sixth to 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points.
Friday at Kentucky Speedway, Earnhardt said it’s important to keep a good attitude, especially during challenging stretches of the season.
“I hate to get frustrated,” said Earnhardt as he prepared for tonight’s Quaker State 400. “That doesn’t help Greg (Ives, crew chief) and you don’t want to show that kind of emotion in front of your guys. That doesn’t help them do their job and that doesn’t make their job more fun. It actually makes the job less fun, harder to do.”
Earnhardt said he wants to set a good example for the team.
“You don’t want to be somebody that is hard to be around,” he said. “So, trying to be positive and give good reinforcement is something I’m working on, you are always working on.”
Certainly, Friday brought its share of frustrations for Earnhardt. Qualifying was rained out, and the morning practice lasted just 23 minutes before the rains fell, keeping the cars off the track for more than four hours.
And given that this is the first race on the newly repaved and reconfigured Kentucky surface, that made everyone’s job harder than it would be on a typical weekend.
At one point in practice, Earnhardt was just 32nd on the speed chart of the 40 cars and yelling at Ives about how bad his car was.
The good news is the team kept working on the car and making it better, and by the time the final Happy Hour practice concluded, Earnhardt was a solid fourth on the board behind only Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson.
That should bode well for tonight’s race.
“We’ve had a lot of weather and a lot of unique situations week after week that seem to stymie our team’s ability to really set our car up and get it ready for the race,” Earnhardt said. “So, it’s been a bit frustrating every now and then.
“But, I’m still enjoying it. I’m still having fun. And I still believe in the group we’ve got and love being part of the crew I’m with and I know that we can do it because we’ve done it before. So, I’m anxious to get back to running how we should and I know I think we’ll do that before the end of this season.”