Moving forward: Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he’s better at putting poor finishes behind

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted on Twitter earlier this week that “one of the annoying things about a poor finish on Sunday … waiting all week to get back in the car and redeem yourself.’’

Earnhardt heads to Auto Club Speedway this weekend after placing 43rd at Phoenix International Raceway. The last time he finished 43rd in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race was last year at Texas. He finished second in the following race at Darlington.

While there’s no guarantee of a repeat rebound, Earnhardt said Thursday on “The Morning Drive’’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio that he’s gotten better at putting poor finishes behind.

“The sooner that I can talk to Greg (Ives) my crew chief, the more I can talk to Greg … about that particular race, the sooner that I can put it behind us,’’ Earnhardt said on the Sirius XM NASCAR Radio show. “When you walk away from a run like that and you don’t communicate, you carry around a lot of questions, you carry around a lot of disappointment and frustrations.

“The best thing to do is get with Greg, talk to him as much as you can, spend the next couple of days going over everything you did, trying to understand how you can learn from it and, maybe, when you go back to Phoenix, you’ll be much better and try not to make any of the same mistakes that you might have made.

“That makes you feel better. You talk about the next week. You talk about what we’re doing to rebound and how we’re going to go to Fontana and be strong. You sort of get all the kind things that get you fired up and get you excited about the next event (so) you can forget about the past.

“I used to have such a hard time with that. When we’d run bad, I would carry it all the way to the next Sunday to the next event before I’d get in the car and try make another run at it, but it’s gotten better the older I’ve got.’’

 

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s greatest Bristol wins

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Bristol Motor Speedway has been on the NASCAR schedule since 1961 and for the first 18 years, no one managed to record their first NASCAR Cup win there. Until Dale Earnhardt Sr. came along.

On April 1, Earnhardt started ninth and drove through the field to take the lead for the first time on lap 139. He would lead the pack twice more, including the final 27 laps en route to victory.

Before his career was over, Earnhardt would win nine times on this bullring and forever etch his name in the track’s history.

“Bristol is a driver’s track,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “If I had to pick where dad would win his first race, it would be a short track.”

“I was there,” Kyle Petty said. “And I remember this, because this was a big moment. … I had started racing when Ricky Rudd came along, when your dad came along, when these younger drivers came along … This was a new breed of driver.”

Earnhardt’s ninth and final win came in 1999 and it’s one that will forever be part of Bristol’s highlight reel.

Terry Labonte took the lead from Earnhardt on the white flag lap, but was not able to get away from the No. 3. Coming off Turn 2, Earnhardt bumped Labonte and spun him out, saying later that he didn’t intend to wreck him, but only “rattle his cage.”

“That was a weird deal, because dad never got booed,” Earnhardt said. “But that night, he got booed. He got out of the car and the fans were really split down the middle. They were either cheering or booing. There was nobody sitting there silent. … And I could tell, in his eyes, that it made him a little uncomfortable. He wasn’t quite comfortable with being booed and what he did to Terry.”

Labonte joins Earnhardt on the Dale Jr. Download today on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. ET to discuss the 1999 race.

Rusty Wallace (1986), Ernie Irvan (1990), Elliott Sadler (2001) and Kurt Busch (2002) would join Earnhardt in getting their first Cup win at Bristol.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Kasey Kahne retiring from full-time racing in NASCAR

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Kasey Kahne announced Wednesday morning that the 2018 Cup season will be his last full time in NASCAR.

The driver of Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 Chevrolet made the announcement on his Twitter account.

“Racing in Cup full time for a few more years was just something that I couldn’t commit to,” said Kahne, who had been racing on NASCAR’s premier circuit since 2004. “I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I know I’m at ease with the decision that I have made.”

Kahne, 38, was the 2004 Cup rookie of the year with Evernham Motorsports and scored his first victory in May 2005 at Richmond Raceway. He has 18 victories in 527 starts during 15 full-time seasons and posted a best finish of fourth in the points standings in 2012, his first year at Hendrick Motorsports.

Kahne also has eight Xfinity Series wins and five Camping World Truck Series wins.

In the wake of Elliott Sadler’s announcement Tuesday, Kahne is the latest of several drivers to walk away from NASCAR in the last three seasons. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all have walked away since 2015.

Here is Kahne’s announcement.

NASCAR America: NASCAR to Fernando Alonso, “come join us”

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A 17-year career in Formula 1 that started at the age of 19 will come to an end for Fernando Alonso when the final race of 2018 is run.

Immediately upon the announcement of his retirement, speculation began about what he might be doing next. Most of the conjecture surrounds IndyCar.

Alonso climbed behind the wheel of an Andretti Autosport Honda in the 2017 Indy 500 and led 27 laps before engine failure sent him behind the wall.

But NASCAR would like to see him transition to stockers instead of open wheel cars and they sent Alonso an invitation via twitter.

“I was surprised by that,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don’t think he’s coming. I think he’s going to IndyCar.”

Recently retired, Earnhardt thinks Alonso should just enjoy any races he runs. He should cherry pick them and “just play.”

If a ride is found, however, the soon-to-be former F1 driver might run only the Daytona 500.

“Not a full season. … That to me is a realistic situation – his coming just to run the Daytona 500,” Earnhardt continued.

Kyle Petty is skeptical even that will happen.

“It is tough to come into this series – the NASCAR series – on a one-off race and be competitive against the guys we have,” Petty said. “You just can’t do it. … Why put yourself in that position?”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Bristol Motor Speedway

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NASCAR brings the thunder back to “Thunder Valley” this weekend as all three national series return to race under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The three-day schedule is topped off by the Cup Series’ 500-lap race around the half-mile track, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN.

Here’s the full weekend schedule for Bristol, with TV and radio info:

(All times are Eastern)

Thursday, Aug. 16

7 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

7:30 a.m  – Truck Series garage opens

9:05 – 9:55 a.m. – Truck practice (Fox Sports 1)

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. – Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

11:05-11:55 a.m. – Final Truck practice (FS1)

1:35 – 2:25 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

4:10 p.m. – Truck Series qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS1)

6 p.m. – Truck Series driver-crew chief meeting

8 pm. – Truck Series driver introductions

8:30 p.m. – UNOH 200; 200 laps/106.6 miles (Fox, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Friday, Aug. 17

7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Cup garage open

9 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

10:35 – 11:55 a.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

12:40 – 1:50 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

3:40 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN

5:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

5:40 p.m. – Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

7 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – Food City 300; 300 laps/159.9 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, Aug. 18

11 a.m. – Cup garage opens

5:30 p.m. – Driver-crew chief meeting

6:50 p.m. – Driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – Cup race; 500 laps/266.5 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)