Not much has gone right for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his final NASCAR Cup Series season and that trend reared its head again last weekend at Pocono.
Earnhardt finished 38th in the Pocono 400 after a bad shift on a restart resulted in a race-ending mechanical problem.
NASCAR America’s Dave Burns talked with Earnhardt’s crew chief, Greg Ives, about the season so far and what the team’s looking forward to.
“Looking at the system, the transmission, the shifter that Dale uses, nothing was different, nothing was different from what he had in the past,” Ives said. “The nice thing about having in-car camera and all the technology we have now, we kind understand the situation Dale was in.”
Earnhardt is winless so far this year and most point to the upcoming Coke Zero 400 at Daytona as his best shot at winning. But Ives has a different viewpoint.
“You look at every track the same way I think,” Ives said. “You look at Michigan, he has two wins there. Sonoma, we’ve run really well there in the last two years there. I felt like we had an opportunity to win without a late-race accident with Carl Edwards. We go into each track with a loot of confidence. I think that confidence comes from a lot of preparation and effort.”
Watch the above video for the full interview.
When it comes to the cause of Earnhardt’s bad shift, NASCAR America analysts disagree.
Reporter Nate Ryan believes it’s a result of a lack of muscle memory due to having missed 18 races at the end of last year, including the second Pocono race. Analyst Greg Biffle sees it as there being a minor difference in the transmission and not a lack of confidence.
“I’ve pulled it into second gear many times in my career, it’s easy to do,” Biffle said. “Nothing has changed from the team’s side. I’m telling you, the seating position or the stiffness in the spring, I don’t know how many times I’ll tell you the team says there’s nothing different, but something’s different.”