"We had a little more speed than that for qualifying - the car was pretty comfortable, I think I was too conservative with my driving," he admitted. "It never helps when you spin out the run before the last run of practice, that knocks some time out of you! We felt we've got good speed. I want to make the car quite a bit more comfortable than it is."
Fortunately, Earnhardt has some time in practice to dial in the car more to liking, with two practice sessions scheduled for Saturday afternoon before the race itself on Sunday.
The Cup drivers largely have the place to themselves this weekend, as their Nationwide counterparts are having an altogether different road course outing with the staging of the Sargento 200 over at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Jacques Villeneuve led first practice and Max Papis topped the second session, with Nelson Piquet Jr. featuring in the top three in both. Former IndyCar champion Sam Hornish Jr. is also competing, as is the famously road course-averse Danica Patrick - but who seems to missing the challenge and looking forward to the opportunity to return to her racing roots this season.
Nationwide qualifying and the race take place later on Saturday.
Full Sprint Cup qualifying and Friday practice times