After being eliminated by a crash last weekend at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has nine races left to make the playoffs or he won’t have a chance to win the Monster Energy Cup title in his last full season driving in the series.
NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte says that Pocono, Michigan and Indianapolis provide the best chance for Earnhardt to win and make the playoffs before the they begin in September.
“That’s the type of tracks that over the last three or four years that Dale Jr has seemed to find a way to succeed at,” Letarte said. “Last year, unfortunately, with him being out with a concussion, he didn’t get to run Indianapolis, but his car showed some speed with Jeff Gordon behind the wheel.
“Overall, I think that Hendrick Motorsports is a huge company that has great success where horsepower and aerodynamics makes the biggest difference. When you go to these bigger tracks, that’s what these teams lean back on.”
With more drivers likely to win and qualify for the playoffs – leaving fewer spots via points – Letarte says the plan is easy for Earnhardt and crew chief Greg Ives.
“I think this team now needs to think that win is the only option to make the playoffs,” Letarte said. “For that, they can gamble, whether it is a fuel strategy or limited tires, I would consistently try to put Dale Jr. up front on the offensive and give him a chance to showcase his talent in his final season.”
For more on what Letarte and Kyle Petty say, watch the video above.