Concerned? Yes. Worried? No.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not fretting about his recent lack of performance in the Sprint Cup Series. He still believes there’s plenty of time to turn things around and not only qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but more importantly, win a race or more.
“No, I’m not feeling any anxiety,” Earnhardt said Friday at Pocono Raceway. “At 41 years old, you kind of get over that stuff. I’m not going to worry about it.
“I spent the first 18 years worrying myself to death. I think we are a good enough team to make it; whether we get a win or not we are a good enough team. That is not a guarantee, I just feel confident that we will get in.
“We’ve got some understanding and ideas on why things have gone the way they have went in several situations and you learn from your mistakes and move forward.”
Where does Earnhardt, crew chief Greg Ives, Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 88 team need to improve the most?
“I have been racing in this series a long time and I have been asked that question dozens and dozens of times,” Earnhardt said. “Even if you knew you wouldn’t tell. I mean you can’t say ‘them guys in the body shop, they need to get going.’ You are not going to throw anybody under the bus.”
But the truth is, Earnhardt added: “The majority of the time there is no way to really put your finger on the exact area where you are getting beat. … You watch a guy real close all weekend make changes and go through the process of the whole weekend and nothing really stands out.
“Their body doesn’t look better than my body. Their motor can’t be better than my motor. It’s just a combination of dozens of things doing everything right, preparing and working hard. Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose. You are not always going to be the fastest guy. You just keep coming up to the race track and showing up and trying to find that advantage that no one else has.”
On the one hand, with 13 races run, Earnhardt still has plenty of time to turn things around. Another 13 races, that is, to make the Chase. Some drivers may say that’s not a long time, but Junior does.
“I’m not too worried about where we are right now,” he said. “We are not running bad. We took off at the start of the year, had some second-place finishes, thought we were right on the verge of winning and we struggled this month.
“It’s been a rough month, but I think we can turn it around here (Pocono). I think we should run great here. I’m not so much worried about end of the race results. I’m more concerned with consistent speed in the car and running up front throughout the day and having consistency on pit road and in the race car. I think we can do that this weekend and going forward.”