Dale Earnhardt Jr admits to having been "really frustrated" when NASCAR this week threw out his appeal against a 25-point penalty, imposed after he uttered a profanity on live TV following victory at Talladega three weeks ago. But the driver of the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet added that he had put the affair behind him on the day NASCAR made its decision.

"I really felt pretty strong about it," Earnhardt said following qualifying at Martinsville. "I wouldn't have went all the way down to Daytona if I didn't feel like it was worth the trip. They just kind of made you feel like they were listening to you the whole time you were there. It's a little frustrating to go through all that. I feel kind of foolish now because I felt like I was getting a fair trial. It was not quite fair I guess. I've never done an appeal before so I didn't know what to expect or how they work. The whole time I was going 'what's next?' and 'what's the next step, who are we talking to here and what do you do and what influence does this particular instance have?' I tried to state my case. I thought exactly what I said and that anybody would have turned it over on the drop of a hat. I guess I feel more strongly about it than everybody else. It was fun. It was interesting.

Now Dale Jr claims that he is racing on and not thinking about the appeal. "I was over it when it happened. We have to race on and not worry about it. It really kind of pushed my team to race harder. We had a really good weekend at Charlotte. I'd been backing up there a little bit over the last couple of races and we pushed real hard in practice. We're
just pushing harder for some reason. Everybody is stepping up a bit. If we do lose a championship, I hope it's by more than 25 points because I don't want to talk about it all winter."

Many are portraying this weekend's subway 500 as a make or break race in the championship battle but Earnhardt doesn't believe that Martinsville deserves such a distinction. "Any of these races are pitfalls for any of us. Anything could happen.
Motors break here. They break in Atlanta and they break in Phoenix just the same. My main position is, I run really good here and Atlanta and Phoenix. I'd like to go into the last two races with at least an 80-point lead because I don't have a stellar statistic at Darlington or at Homestead. Those are my two concerns. Hopefully we don't have any mistakes where we hope to run good like here."

The Earnhardt v Gordon rivalry is also being hyped up, with the two drivers second and third in the points behind Kurt Busch, but Dale Jr adds that he's just as excited about racing some of the veterans who have announced plans to retire after next season, drivers such as Rusty Wallace and Terry Labonte. "I like racing Jeff. I probably will get plenty of that in the next several years. I'll try to race Rusty (Wallace) and all these other guys as much as I can over the next 12 to 18 months. We have a lot fun when we're out there. These are the guys that were either racing with my father or coming into the sport when he was here and guys that I looked up to.

"I remember when I raced one of my first Busch races in St. Louis. I pulled on to pit road for my first practice and Terry Labonte was beside me in his car. I didn't even feel comfortable going on the same race track as him because I hadn't paid my dues or whatever. It was really uncomfortable I guess to be with those guys because they are so much more intimidating at that age. I like racing Jeff. I don't really think much about racing the old system. I know that's going to be beat into everybody's head whether you want to think about it or not. By the end of the season, we're all going to be tired of hearing about it. Hopefully the new system works out and we have a big ending at the finale in Homestead and somebody is celebrating and everybody is pretty happy with the result."

The Subway 500 gets underway at around 1pm Eastern Time on Sunday, around 6pm in the UK. Stay tuned to Crash.net for the full story.