Following his controversial run in the Daytona 500 last week, Dale Earnhardt Jr says he is ready to move on as the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Fontana this weekend for the Auto Club 500.
Earnhardt was involved in two separate incidents on pit road – once after missing his pit box and the second after failing to stop in the designated area – before coming together with Brian Vickers on the back straight in a collision which triggered a ten car accident and put a number of cars out of the race.
With the fall-out from that incident having been one of the main talking points of Speedweeks, Earnhardt will now hope for better luck in track and he admitted the time had come to put the 500 behind him and focus on the races ahead.
"We were good all week at Daytona, but we didn't get the results we wanted,” the Hendrick Motorsports man said. “I'm ready to move on, and we're looking forward to seeing what we can do in California."
However, recent events at the Auto Club Speedway haven't been amongst Earnhardt's best and he admitted that the timing of the race made it difficult due to changing circuit conditions.
"We haven't had much luck over the past several years at California,” he said. “Because of the late afternoon start, the night-time finish, the track changes. You've got to have that adjustment in your setup. Jimmie [Johnson] and Jeff [Gordon] have been good there, and they are a good reference."
Unlike Daytona, which features some of the steepest banking in the Sprint Cup, the Auto Club Speedway this weekend will provide the Sprint Cup racers with one of the flatter circuits in the schedule, and crew chief Tony Eury said that would provide another challenge for the second round of the season.
"One of the biggest challenges at California is that the track is really flat and has no grip,” he said. “Basically, you have to keep a really good aero platform and keep the car from getting too free off the corners. That has typically been our problem in the past. Our car will be good after 20 laps, but will be too free at the start. We are really working hard to try and tighten the car up a little bit but not get it too tight at the end of the run.
“You have to start the race in the day and end at night so you've got those conditions changing on you on top of that. We have a pretty good plan on what we are going to do, and, with the success that Jimmie had out there last fall, we are looking forward to going back."