NASCAR »

Earnhardt: 'About to the end of my rope'

Dale Earnhardt Jr reflects on a challenging season in the Sprint Cup – which is pushing him to the limit
Leave something in a pressure cooker long enough, and it's bound to boil over.

A litany of setbacks in a season of frustration has hit critical mass for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who craves a solution to the performance problems of his #88 team but is at a loss when trying to identify possible solutions.

"I'm about to the end of my rope on it," Earnhardt said, after reciting chapter and verse on last week's late wreck at Fontana, Calif., and Thursday night's bewilderingly poor qualifying run at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I've been riding it out, but I think it comes there comes a point, though, where you don't want to ride it out anymore.

"It's been a long year. I really don't want the year to be over with, because I like going to the racetrack every week and racing, but the last several - well, all year, it's been so low. The 'highs' have been not very high, and the 'lows' have been terribly low. So that's hard to want to get back up and try again the next week, when you take such a beating, but I don't know what else to do."

Earnhardt's frustration came to a head Thursday. The proximate cause was a 39th-place qualifying run - after posting the 13th-fastest time during Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day. Last Sunday, a flat tyre late in the race at Fontana derailed what promised to be a top-ten run. Earnhardt slowed in front of Elliott Sadler, and contact between their two cars ignited a multicar pileup in turn one.

"We come off of turn four at California, and Ryan Newman hit me in the left rear quarter panel and knocked the valve stem out of tyre," said Earnhardt, who retired two laps short of the finish in 25th place. "I had a flat tyre going down the front straightaway, and I couldn't go nowhere, because I had guys on the inside of me. Elliott didn't know that I had a flat, and neither did the #17 (Matt Kenseth) behind him, and when they got to me, I couldn't control my car anymore. I was out of air in the tyre. That was frustrating. I was really upset. I was really, really upset.

"Last night (Thursday) we go out, and we were top 15 in practice, and we went out and tried to qualify, and we're one of the worst cars here. We don't know why or have any answer for it. All the other (Hendrick Motorsports) cars qualified fine, did well, backed their times up in practice, and we didn't even get close. We looked ridiculous last night. So it's like really encouraging one day, and then the next day it's equally discouraging. And that gets really old."

Still unsettled is the matter of Earnhardt's crew chief for next season. Owner Rick Hendrick brought Earnhardt and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. to his organization as a package deal to start the 2008 season. After continued struggles in 2009, Lance McGrew replaced Eury before the May race at Dover. Though the team has shown improvement since then, Earnhardt hasn't finished as well as he has run in most races, and McGrew's status is still a question mark.

"I haven't talked to Rick about it," Earnhardt said of the crew-chief choice. "I don't have the credentials to make the call. If I told you that I wanted to be with Lance next year, I wouldn't be telling you that out of my knowledge of expertise and talent. I'd be telling you because it's fun hanging out with him. Whoever I work with needs to be dictated. The most success I had was with Tony (Eury) Sr. (Eury Jr.'s father and Earnhardt's long-time crew chief at Dale Earnhardt Inc.), and you know how he runs his ship.

"I don't think I'm the guy to leave that decision up to, because I wouldn't make the right one - or there's probably better people to make it, especially in the organisation, man. There's a lot of smart people around there. I'm just waiting for somebody to make the call, man. Just put the damn team together and say 'This is what you got; this is what you're going to do next year.' I'm just kind of waiting on that to happen."

As he waits, the frustration mounts.

"We just need to run better, and it's not happening," Earnhardt said. "It's not happening fast enough. … Even when we're creeping inside the top ten like we were last week, it's not good enough. It's really frustrating.

"I feel like I don't have any control. Rick's put me in a great position, but I haven't made the most of it, or for whatever reason, we're just not getting it done."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dale Earnhardt Jr - Hendrick Motorsport   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, does a burnout after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart presents Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, with the trophy after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, wins the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AutoTrader.com Ford, and Morgan Shepherd, driver of the #33 Little Joe`s Autos Chevrolet, crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A view of the track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Crew chief Chad Knaus inspects the car of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, crashes in the early part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola (R), driver of the #43 Charter Ford, inspects his car after crashing during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


BigZipper

October 18, 2009 2:16 PM

Dale Jr, stop blaming everything and everyone and knuckle down and get some work done. You may want to quit smoking and start working out, that may help your race fitness and in turn your results.



© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.