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Earnhardt optimistic for 2010

Dale Earnhardt Jr looks ahead to the 2010 NASCAR season with optimism after difficult 2009
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he has noticed a change in the culture at the Hendrick Motorsports race shop his #88 team shares with the #5 of Mark Martin - and that my bode well for improved performance in 2010.

From Earnhardt's point of view, the catalyst for the change was the naming of Lance McGrew as his full-time crew chief at the end of the 2009 season. In May,

McGrew had replaced Earnhardt's cousin, Tony Eury Jr., as interim crew chief.

"When he (McGrew) was able to solidify his position, and we could move forward knowing this was the deal - this is how it is - everybody sort of wrapped their minds and beliefs and trusts into that and around that, and we could sort of build back some confidence and some trust and belief in the team," Earnhardt said Friday night at the Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway.

A shifting of in-shop personnel has created a greater sense of cooperation between the two teams.

"When I say the culture, that's kind of what I mean, in the two cars and the people that are really intertwined between the two teams - kind of getting them all working and believing again in the #88 is what I think has changed a lot," Earnhardt said.

Martin, who finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings last year, doesn't think Earnhardt's performance needs to improve that much, if he can reverse the ill fortune that derailed promising runs in a number of races last year.

"If they only make minor progress in the performance side, and they have the opposite kind of racing luck that they had, they will have a Chase-making and very, very, very respectable season," Martin said. "In other words, they don't have to make a huge jump in performance, if they can just get that monkey off their back.

"They ran better than the #5 car in numerous races, but nobody really noticed, because they got wrecked, or something broke. They had a lot of things happen and go wrong for them when they were faster than we were in the #5 car."

Team-mate Jeff Gordon believes confidence is the key to a turnaround for Earnhardt, who enters the season on a 57-race winless streak.

"It doesn't take much to get off track," Gordon said. "I mean, it's so competitive out there. And I know that sometimes it looks like they're way off, but I don't think they're off as far as people think. I think it just is going to a take a fresh start - a few things.



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Dale Earnhardt Jr - Hendrick Motorsport   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
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Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, climbs from his car after being involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS, qualified fifth Friday, July 4, 2014 for Saturday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Johnson is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, left, talks with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, June 15, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. It was Johnson`s third win of the year and first at Michigan International Speedway.  He is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. With him is Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who finished thirteenth. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win with a burnout Sunday, June 15, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. It was Johnson`s third win of the year and first at Michigan International Speedway.  He is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, June 15, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. It was Johnson`s third win of the year and first at Michigan International Speedway.  He is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)

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Nancy J. Hess - Unregistered

January 23, 2010 9:19 PM

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is my #1 driver! My husband is always for Jimmie Johnson. Every race we have a bet to see who will be doing the dishes, this year my husband wll be having dishwater hands. GOOD LUCK to DALE JR. & THE #88 TEAM! I am behind you 100%!

Carol R. Beck - Unregistered

January 22, 2010 3:52 PM

Win, lose, or draw I will always cheer for Dale Jr. I have liked him since I started watching NASCAR in 2001. There is something about him that is very appealing to people....he comes across as very genuine and down to earth. I would love to meet him in person someday. We are all waiting to see him get back to his winning ways and prowess on the track (especially at Talladega). Junior I wish you the very best of luck in 2010! Stay focused and keep your eye on the prize.



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