Dale Earnhardt Jr.: ‘These last four or five weeks have been really miserable’

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. offered a frank assessment of his season and team on his weekly podcast, noting that recent performances show that “we’ve got a problem, Houston. It’s time to understand how severe this situation is and really get to owning it, try to figure something out.’’

Earnhardt is 11th in points with no wins and just five top-10 finishes in 12 races. This is the worst he’s been in the points at this time of the season since 2010 when he was 16th and went on to finish 21st, failing to make the Chase.

“If we get into this Chase, we can’t run running like this,’’ Earnhardt said on The Dale Jr. Download. “That ain’t going to work. Clearly disappointed. All the guys on the team are in the same boat. All the guys on the team also are very positive. You have to be for us to be able to get better. We’ve all got to work together.

“We know we can do it. I believe in all my guys. I believe in (crew chief) Greg (Ives). They believe in me, and we’ll figure it out. We’ve been down before, but it’s time to own it. It’s time to get after it.

“We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and really get to it here, figure out what’s going on and what we need to be doing, start really trying to find some speed and some answers.’’

Since back-to-back runner-up finishes in April at Texas and Bristol, Earnhardt has finished no better than 13th the last four races. He has struggled in qualifying most of the season. He has three top-five starts, with two at restrictor-plate tracks and one last weekend at Dover, when qualifying was rained out and the lineup was set by speed in practice.

Earnhardt cited his Kansas run earlier this month as unsettling.

“It was disappointing to run 15th at Kansas,’’ Earnhardt said on his podcast. “I know our fans are really disappointed, and they see the Gibbs guys doing well. It’s obvious to us who’s doing good and who’s not.

“We understand that we have lost a little bit of something. These last four or five weeks have been really miserable. We haven’t had a fast car at any of the races. Even at Talladega where we thought we were going to be great, we went in there and goofed it up. We’ve got a lot of work to do.’’

Earnhardt said isn’t not just one area that is hindering the team.

“We definitely aren’t the team we were the last few years,’’ he said on his podcast. “We’ve got to figure out what’s going on and how we’re getting beat. I see a few things on our cars and on other cars that are out of our control. There is only so much my guys can do in the garage and before we go through the tech line. It’s a battle every weekend to try to figure out how much work you can do to your car.’’

Earnhardt’s team received its third warning last weekend at Dover after failing the Laser Inspection Station twice before the race. His team will lose pit stall selection for a race with the next warning.

With 14 points races left before the Chase begins, Earnhardt knows there’s time to improve.

“This All-Star weekend coming up ain’t going to be the answer to all of our problems, but it’s an opportunity to work on some of them,’’ said Earnhardt, who won the 2000 All-Star Race but has never won the Coca-Cola 600. “I’ll be honest with you, I’d rather win (next week’s) 600 a thousand times more than the All-Star race. Running good and running better throughout the rest of the year is much more important to me than stumbling into a million bucks on this All-Star weekend. If we come out of the All-Star race winners but don’t understand how to go into the 600 and be competitive, it does us no good.’’

Earnhardt had more to say about his season and detailed his frustrations with last weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway. To hear all that he said, go to his podcast at Dirty Mo Radio.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s totals after 12 races in recent seasons


0 wins, 4 top fives, 5 top 10s and 11th in points


1 win, 7 top fives, 8 top 10s and fourth in points


1 win, 6 top fives, 7 top 10s and fifth in points


0 wins, 3 top fives, 7 top 10s and sixth in points


0 wins, 4 top fives, 9 top 10s and fourth in points


0 wins, 2 top fives, 6 top 10s and fourth in points


0 wins, 1 top five, 3 top 10s and 16th in points

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at goprn.com; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly clouldy with a high of 74 degrees and a 9% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


Friday 5: What to do about lack of respect on the track?

Dr. Diandra: With Chase Elliott out, these are the best Next Gen road racers

Drivers to watch at COTA

North Wilkesboro’s racing surface will prove challenging to drivers 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Christopher Bell is new No. 1

NASCAR Saturday schedule at Circuit of the Americas


Saturday will be a busy day at Circuit of the Americas, as all three national series are on the track.

Cup will qualify ahead of the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series races.

The forecast Saturday calls for sunny conditions and no chance of rain all day. The high is expected to be 69 degrees during Cup qualifying, 76 degrees at the start of the Truck race and 81 degrees for the start of the Xfinity race.

Zane Smith looks to win his second consecutive Truck race at the road course in Austin, Texas. AJ Allmendinger seeks his second consecutive Xfinity win at COTA.

Saturday, March 25

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 10:30 a.m.  — Truck Series
  • 2 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (42 laps, 143 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 5 p.m. — Xfinity race (46 laps, 156 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.