“I feel pretty good, because I have nothing to lose,” said Earnhardt. “And that fits right into how you sort of race this race track. It’s kind of a no-holds-barred, lay it out there kind of thing. Anytime you’re cautious, you tend to get yourself in trouble. The guys that are a lot more aggressive seem to find themselves toward the front of the mess when it all goes down.”
Earnhardt said he will adopt an aggressive, go-for-broke style Sunday in an attempt to win the race and interject himself back into the title chase, adding, “We’re just going to throw it all out there, man. I love running here and have learned a lot over the last few races that. As this package has evolved, we’ve learned a lot. So I feel like we can be more aggressive.”
The two-time Nationwide Series champion pointed to Talladega as a track where he can gain ground on the leaders.
There will definitely be some guys that come out of here feeling really luck and really fortunate, and some guys on the opposite end of that,” he said. “It’s a race track where circumstances can lead to good fortune or terrible luck. So I’m sure it’s going to shake things up.”
Earnhardt said his point position allows him to gamble, without worrying about losing any further ground.
“We’re in a position where it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “We can’t be conservative at all. We’ve really got to take a lot of risks. With just a few races left and as good as everybody like Brad and Jimmie and the No. 11 are running, we really have to get aggressive. That should play right into this race track’s hands.
“It’s a place that really asks for that,” he added. “You’ve got to take some risks and be pretty daring out there to make things happen.”
He also said fans should not expect to see him hiding out in the back of the pack to avoid trouble.
“(It feels) unnatural to not want to try to go for the lead and try to run up front. It felt like I was almost setting yourself up for failure, because the idea of a race is to go up and drive toward the front and try to lead and try to run well. It seemed completely the opposite of what you grew-up doing and what your mentality should be like.
|Earnhardt (88) knows how to win at Talladega|
“You really don’t know what things are going to go down, or what’s going to happen,” he said. “Sometimes, (trouble) happens with the usual suspects and sometimes it’s a surprise who would be involved in it. I’ve been on the receiving end of some wrecks here and I’ve started a few myself. So you just go out there and try to run as hard as you can and put yourself around people you like to work with and that you trust. That usually pays off.”
Earnhardt admitted that drivers do not have full control of their destiny at Talladega, calling racing at the track, “uncontrolled… a lottery. The guy who wins has done something right and earned it in a way, but you don’t have quite as much control over your own destiny as you do at other race tracks. I think that will always be the case here.”
He added that recent NASCAR rule changes have made the process even more challenging, saying, “the package we have and the restrictor plate… boxes everybody up into one little lump. We all kind of ride around the race track on top of each other and it makes for a real challenge. When you’re sitting there in 20th place and the whole track is three-wide and there’s nowhere to go, the race cars aren’t able to pull out and pass. You just have to find somebody to draft with and wait for enough guys in front of you to make the wrong move. It’s just really strange racing. But some guys are making it work. Somebody’s going to win this race and I want to be that guy, so I’ve got to make the best of it.”
Earnhardt expressed disappointment in the first three races of his 2012 Chase, saying his AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet team has “not really performed as well as we have for the majority of the season. There’s just something not quite there. We’ve been consistent, but not running well enough to challenge the guys up front for the championship.
“We’re far enough behind where we could start throwing some things out there and seeing what sticks. We can just let it all hang out and go for broke.
“I’m still thinking championship, (and) I feel like anything can happen,” he said. “Stranger things have happened to get guys back into the title chase. (Talladega) is definitely an opportunity to shake things up to our advantage.”
Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR, Alan Marler/HHP Photo