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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]
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with his wife DeLana, son Keelan, and the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet SS, captures the flag with his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 after winning Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 3, 2014 in Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 after winning Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 after winning Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with a broom after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/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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