Dale Earnhardt Jr. Still Chasing First Win of the Season

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, capturing his third top five in three races this season. Two third place finishes at Daytona and Atlanta plus a fourth Sunday at Vegas sounds good on paper but Earnhardt is looking for more.

“Sounds a little bit less than we did last year, I think we were first, second, second – so, we have to step it up a little bit,” he said laughing.”

Earnhardt led twice for four laps but was no match for Kevin Harvick. The No. 88 team decided to take a gamble on the last pit stop, taking only two tires, in an effort to steal the lead from the dominant Harvick. It was a risky call but one that Earnhardt felt was justified.

“We didn’t put lefts (tires) on it; made it a gamble. I like to gamble. I liked the call. I love being aggressive,” he stated after the race. “We were going to drive up there and pass that No. 4 (Kevin Harvick). So, we had to take a chance. Second, fifth, fourth, whatever; it really don’t matter if you don’t win.”

Unfortunately, the end result was an ill-handling car.

“I got really loose. I had a real bad vibration on that last run and I was really, really loose,” Earnhardt explained. “We’ve been running the track bar pretty much even the whole race, and at the end there I had it down three inches on right side trying to save my butt. Maybe it was worn-out lefts, I don’t know. The left side (tires) is new and a little softer compound, maybe we just took it a little bit too far.”

Although he was somewhat disappointed with today’s finish, Earnhardt is certain that his next win is imminent.

“This year, our cars are racing up there. So, we think we’ve got the cars better than we had last year. Hendrick, overall, has great speed. The engine department is doing awesome and we’re going to get one,” he predicted.

“I want to win! We’re going to get there.”

So far this season, Earnhardt’s partnership with new crew chief, Greg Ives, has produced impressive results and Earnhardt is his biggest supporter.

Just last week, he praised Ives, saying, “Greg is great at communicating. Our communication is natural, feels good. He’s a pretty decent cheerleader, too, for myself, the team. Man, he’s going to be something else for a while around that garage. I’m glad to be able to work with him there.”

After Sunday’s race at Las Vegas, Earnhardt’s enthusiasm spilled over onto twitter.

“I am so excited about our team! Getting a group THIS talented & focused is rare,” he tweeted. “Been doing this gig a long time and I know how lucky I am.”

Earnhardt is now second in the Sprint Cup standings, nine points behind leader, Harvick. The only missing piece is a trip to victory lane and if Earnhardt’s confidence is any indication, it could happen sooner rather than later.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Angela Campbell
A native of Charlotte, NC, Angela (Angie) was first introduced to racing by her father. An avid fan of NASCAR, she found a way to combine her love of racing with her passion for writing. Angie is also an award-winning member of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

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