Earnhardt's Steady Progress
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on June 30, 2014 | 9:42 A.M. EST
Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his 12th top-10 finish of the season Saturday at Kentucky Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a solid run in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway but he’s not a fan of the track’s roller-coaster nature.
Kentucky’s rough racing surface was the topic of conversation all week long. Like many drivers, Earnhardt has a particular issue with the main straightaway.
"It sucks, man," Earnhardt said after his fifth-place finish. "God almighty. It's so brutal. It's just terrible, man. And I hate it for the speedway, because they just got their date. But man, it's the most miserable thing out there. Ain't nothing about that I want to do over again. I'm glad it's over."
While Earnhardt is not calling for a complete repave of the 1.5-mile track, he would like to see some attention given to the problem area across the start/finish line.
"That front straightaway, man, you can't even get your bearings," Earnhardt said. "You can't focus on the line you're trying to create getting into the corner. It's pretty violent and we actually improved our car from yesterday quite a bit."
Earnhardt was able to muscle his National Guard Chevrolet home to his 12th top-10 performance of the season and his second at Kentucky.
He praised the way his team responded to struggles earlier in the weekend and crew chief Steve Letarte’s pit strategy.
"Yeah, I didn’t have any answers for why we were struggling (Friday),” Earnhardt said. “Steve and the engineers got in the hauler and talked all night long, and all day and put a great car underneath us. And the pit crew did an amazing job. Those guys were gaining spots for me every stop. Even when we were taking four tires, we were beating a lot of guys off pit road. They’re just a great group and deserve a lot of credit, too.
“The National Guard Chevy was way better today; a lot more fun to drive. This place is a bit of a handful for me. I don’t think I’ve got it figured out just yet. And I don’t exactly know what I’m looking for and how I need the car to drive. So Steve and the guys did a good job in having to deal with me and trying to put a good car under me this weekend. It was a lot of fun in the race. The strategy was good on pit road. Steve’s fuel strategy gained us a lot of track position."