Thursday, October 09, 2014

Earnhardt On Title Hopes: "We're Still In It"

After a disastrous, 39th-place finish last Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has his back against the championship wall. Currently 11th in the Chase standings -- 24 points from advancing – Earnhardt will need a win at Charlotte or Talladega, or up-front finishes in both events to advance to the Eliminator Round.

Earnhardt said today that while unhappy with last week’s results, he is comforted by the week-in, week-out speed of his race cars.
“I’m really excited,” said Earnhardt. “I was thrilled with how we ran last weekend. Super-fast car (and) this place is a bit similar.  The last time we raced at Chicago was a while ago and everybody in the sport has learned a tremendous amount since that race.  You can’t come into this race going, ‘Alright, we ran good last time we were here, so we should be good this time.’ You’ve got to look a little shorter down the road and our best opportunity to look at a track that compares was last week. 
“I feel like we should be competitive this weekend,” he added. “We obviously know what the situation is with the points and how important it is for us to come in here and win the race.  I have been winless at Charlotte in a points-paying race since I started my career, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later.  I always win at the weirdest times, in the oddest circumstances. 
“So I feel like everything is lining up. I feel real good about this weekend.”
Earnhardt said this year’s Chase format actually allows him to dig out of last week’s hole, as opposed to last season when a poor start in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway doomed his championship effort.
“We were pretty much out of it last year at that point,” he recalled. “We still feel like we have a shot. There is a chance.  That is all you want to be able to go out there with a good attitude and try to make it happen. (It) would be amazing for us to go ahead and get it done with the circumstances we’ve got.  With this system, we still feel like we are in it.  If we believe in ourselves and believe in what we are doing, we can go out there and get in the mix.”
Earnhardt said he is unconcerned with having three major title contenders mired with him at the bottom of the standings.
“I can’t worry about them,” he said. “I can’t say what are my odds, what are Jimmie’s and what are Brad’s.  I just have to go try to win this race (and) I know that’s what they have to do.  I’ve got to throw them into the mix with every other driver out there, because it’s really not a matter of who is going to climb out of the hole.  It’s who is going to show up Saturday night and win the race. 
“You can’t really go into Talladega with the same confidence, because it’s such a lottery there.  I want to make it happen now.  I feel like I’ve got a better chance this week than I do in Talladega, even with the success we’ve had there. 
“There are two kinds of approaches and they are both equally as nerve racking,” he added. “One approach is to run well and hope that nothing bad happens, and the other approach is (to) just go for broke. I feel less pressure now than I did before the race at Kansas. I think we have a shot and I feel good about it. 
“I think our team is good.  I think we are good enough.  I think we should go out there and win.  I believe we will.”

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