|Junior has some work to do Sunday.|
Earnhardt will be forced to start from the rear of the field in Sunday's GEICO 400, after his Hendrick Motorsports team decided to change engines after Saturday's qualifying session. The change was made after crewmembers found unspecified issues within the engine, and will force Earnhardt to give up the fourth starting spot in the opening race of the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Crew chief Steve Letarte downplayed the issue, saying he believes he can use early pit strategy to get Earnhardt to the front of the pack. "I don't think we are super concerned," said Letarte. "We had a great car in practice and qualified really well, so we showed we have good speed. Fortunately, this is a race track (where) there are multiple pit strategies. Iit's not a really simple, straightforward pit strategy to call.”
Earnhardt begins the 2012 Chase seventh in the championship standings, nine points behind point leader Denny Hamlin.