Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reflects on his Speedweeks so far

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't found Victory Lane yet during Speedweeks and already suffered one blown engine, but he continues to have a positive outlook heading into Sunday's Daytona 500.
   Earnhardt talked about his Speedweeks so far following his ninth-place finish in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel.
   Q: What did you learn out there?
   "We've got to work on our handling. Our car was really really tight. At the first, we were on the splitter pretty bad; we worked on it yesterday and went a little too far. Got a little too aggressive with that. But put a packer in on that pit stop, and it was still real tight. I was having to lift in the center of three and four, just to get off the corner. I had to lift real big getting into one on the first lap where Juan (Pablo Montoya) got into the fence behind us. We hadn't been around any packs. I didn't anticipate really the balance being a big deal because the car does have a good downforce package; we thought the balance would be pretty close. Figured we would be fighting loose a little big. We have to work on it. We will; we'll fix it."
   Q: Anything you learn going to help you for the 500?
   "We've got a good car. I was able to do some things. I did learn a few things about when those guys get up top. I found some ways to make gains; make passes one car at a time. If you get greedy and try to get a couple, you end up getting trained to the back. Learned a lot of things out there. Just how this car is working with this package that will help us on Sunday."
   Q: How indicative is that of what we'll see on Sunday?
    "I think it is exactly what you are going to see. You'll see a lot of racing. It'll be single file around the bottom some. It will be single file around the top some. Then all of a sudden everybody will start racing for no apparent reason. Then it'll go back to running single file for awhile. We don't really dictate that as driver. Not the field. The field really is at the mercy of the guys of front. If those guys up front chose to race a certain way, the filed sort of has to follow suit just to be able to maintain the draft. I think it will be a good race. It's a long race, you know. We can't run three-wide every lap as much as everybody would like to see that. I think its good racing."
   Q: Can you win?
   "Anybody can win, but we've got a good piece. We've got a real good car. We get that balance right, and get the thing to turning good, we'll have a great shot."

In 2014, the Duel at Daytona will debut at night

   The Budweiser Duel, the 150-mile qualifying races that determine the starting lineup for the Daytona 500, will move under the lights in 2014, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III announced.

    The Budweiser Duel At Daytona, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, will start under the lights and will be televised by Fox Media Group, which may mean Fox Sports One.

   “To earn a coveted starting spot in the Daytona 500, the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to perform under the lights and in front of a primetime audience in the Budweiser Duel,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Moving the Budweiser Duel under the lights will add another dimension to Budweiser Speedweeks.”

   The Budweiser Duel joins The Sprint Unlimited and the NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as the three nighttime races held during Budweiser Speedweeks.