Veteran: Saturday at Chicagoland 'was awful,' must improve as Chase goes on RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Dale Earnhardt Jr . got off to a solid, but not spectacular start in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Challenger Round at Chicagoland Speedway . Earnhardt spent most of the afternoon in the top 10, ran some of the day in the top five but came away with an 11th-place finish. The finish itself may have left a little to be desired, but what bugged Junior was the No. 88 team's struggles in practice. Talking on "The Dale Jr . Download" as part of Dirty Mo Radio , Earnhardt lamented the fact the team couldn't find a rhythm in practice. "To be honest, Saturday was awful," Earnhardt said. "We weren't anywhere we needed to be. We were about two-tenths off of the guys that I thought were going to run well. Two-tenths is a chunk of time, so I was getting very worried." Junior finished in ninth in the second practice, but dropped to 26th in final practice. "The third and final practice we had all kinds of problems with the engine and the spark plug. And then we went out there and preceded to stink it up and run all kinds of terrible laps." For the owner of three wins in 2014, Earnhardt sounded a bit frustrated with the practice struggles. "We don't practice well. We never do but we always race well. Even if we practice decent, I know it's going to be a great race. Because we always race just fine. We just don't practice, don't qualify well. I don't know why that is. Wish I had an answer for you but trust me, it's an unpleasant experience to have to struggle through practice and worry whether that's a reflection of how the race is going to go." Earnhardt praised crew chief Steve Letarte and the team's engineers for the work they did from the end of Saturday's final practice to the start of Sunday's MyAFibStory.com 400 and is hopeful he can have a good feeling all weekend long next time out. "I want it to be good on Saturday. I want to run Saturday and go, 'Man we got a nice car, we got a good car.' " Earnhardt will enter this weekend's second race of the Challenger Round, the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), in fifth place in the standings. In 30 starts at the Magic Mile, Earnhardt has seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes. In the summer race at Loudon, Earnhardt earned a 10th-place finish. That type of result would serve Junior well in the Challenger Round, but he knows more is needed as the Chase goes on. "Maybe this first round we can get by with finishing 11th, but Round 2 you are not going to make it. I know that. We need to improve a little bit there." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
NASCAR.com's Lesley Robins talks with Michael Waltrip about his first performance on "Dancing with the Stars" as he calls out Dale Earnhardt Jr . Robins also talks with Alfonso Ribeiro.
KBM driver will change numbers at Martinsville in tribute to 2015 NASCAR Hall inductee CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the year since his first victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series , Darrell Wallace Jr . says he has learned much about former driver Wendell Scott . When Wallace won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway last October, he became the first African-American to win a race in one of NASCAR's three national series since Scott accomplished the feat nearly 50 years earlier. "I didn't know he lived only 30 minutes away (from the Martinsville track)," Wallace said of the Danville, Virginia, native. "I didn't know his family was there (that day)." Wallace will be one of two NASCAR drivers to honor the long-time racer when the Camping World Truck and Sprint Cup Series return to the 0.526-mile track Oct. 24-26. Wallace's Kyle Busch Motorsports entry, pictured below, normally sporting the No. 54 on its sides and roof, will sport a blue No. 34 with red trim under which Scott competed. Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan 's No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford will feature a similar blue paint scheme reminiscent of that used by Scott. Both vehicles will carry NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee markings to promote Scott's upcoming induction. Wallace, who has since picked up NCWTS wins at Gateway and Eldora, said he had watched a documentary detailing Scott's NASCAR career before his Martinsville victory. "It was rough to watch, for sure," Wallace, 20, said during Tuesday's unveiling, which was held in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "It reminds me of watching "42" (The Jackie Robinson Story) a couple of weeks ago just to see what Jackie Robinson went through. It kind of makes you appreciate things more in life away from racing, just life itself. "To be able to carry the torch that Wendell (lit), for me to put our Toyota in Victory Lane last year and now to come back a year later with the iconic No. 34 that myself and David will run, it's going to be a good weekend." Scott earned one win, 20 top-five and 147 top-10 finishes in 495 career starts in NASCAR's premier series. Between 1964 and '69, he never finished lower than 12th in the points standings, and posted a career-best sixth in 1966. Scott will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015, along with fellow inductees Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. Anne B. France will be honored with the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
David Ragan and Darrell Wallace Jr . unveil special paint schemes to pay tribute to Wendell Scott's induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
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