Cautions foiled the No. 88 team's strategy in the Brickyard 400 RELATED: Power Rankings after Indianapolis " How all 43 drivers fared at the Brickyard Sunday's annual NASCAR stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had a Murphy's Law quality to it for Dale Earnhardt Jr . But the 40-year-old driver, while frustrated, said that in the grand scheme of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points system, the run of Brickyard bad luck barely matters. Earnhardt described the set of circumstances that led to an unsavory 22nd-place finish at Indy in a sigh-filled Tuesday edition of the " Dale Jr . Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio. "Not a lot of fun out there," was the sentiment after a late pit-road mishap then a spin after contact with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne -- all with less than 20 laps remaining. "With several laps to go, we were sitting out there in 16th or so and we were going to come down pit road and get four tires," Earnhardt told Dirty Mo Radio. "I don't know, we didn't. The reason is because who the hell cares where we finish if we can't win the race. I mean, we were going to come down pit road in 16th place. A lot of guys around us pitted and we were going to get four tires and come out probably ... we might beat two guys, we might lose two spots, what the hell ever. So it was a wash in my opinion." Earnhardt did enter pit road in 16th place, but left in 22nd after an air-gun failure slowed his stop for service, leaving his No. 88 Chevrolet team only able to change two tires instead of four. Earnhardt recovered from that and his slight brush with the Turn 1 wall to stay on the lead lap. With two regular-season victories in hand and his spot in the Chase playoffs assured thanks to the points format instituted ahead of the 2014 season, Earnhardt was able to shrug off the disappointment more easily ahead of Sunday's Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway. "With the old system, you would do everything you could to get the best finish you could," Earnhardt said, "and that might mean forgoing the win and (saying), 'Hey man, if we do everything X, Y and Z and get lucky on the restarts, we might run 10th or we might finish eighth,' like some of those guys that we were racing with. But who damn cares about that? I'm sitting in 16th with 20-some laps to go, a lot of guys behind me are coming for tires. Do I want to be the last guy on old tires? No. I don't want to get eaten up by new tires, get in the wrong line on the restart and get screwed and not be competitive and not be on the offense. "We've got two wins, we're in the Chase, so what the hell's it matter between 10th and 20th? Who cares? If we do everything right, we finish 10th. If we don't do everything right, we finish 20th, but it's a wash either way. Doesn't even matter with this points system." Earnhardt bemoaned the sequence of yellow flags at Indianapolis and how the No. 88 team's strategy was adversely affected. Still, he championed the power of creative thinking from atop the pit box -- a resource that crew chief Greg Ives will have to employ this weekend at Pocono, where short-pitting, targeting fuel windows and other pit strategies frequently come into play. "The way this system works, you just go win, and if you can't win, do what everybody else ain't doing," Earnhardt said. "Do something different. Try something different. The same-ol', same-ol' is just going to get you the same boring-ass result." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Kasey Kahne make contact sending Earnhardt through the grass and into the wall.
Earnhardt describes how hot it was at Loudon en route to fifth-place finish RELATED: Junior reacts to his finish right after the race " Scanner Sounds: Junior heated The hot weather at New Hampshire Motor Speedway had an affect on several drivers in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 with a few drivers needing to go to the infield care center after the race for heat-related issues. On "The Dale Jr . Download on Dirty Mo Radio, Dale Earnhardt Jr . said he was feeling the effects of the heat later that night. "It was a real hot race," Earnhardt said. "Seen a lot of drivers wore out. I was hot, my face was hot. Rest of me was fine, just my face. It was kind of weird. Even later at night trying to go to bed, my face felt like it was sunburnt." Earnhardt scored a fifth-place finish in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 for his 10th top-10 finish of 2015 and his fourth straight top-10 showing at the Magic Mile. But to get that top five wasn't easy. "We had a bad gauge. Oil pressure gauge was showing 120 pounds and that's not good." And then there was some contact with Kurt Busch around the two-thirds mark of the race took Earnhardt outside the top five and down to 24th when he pitted under caution before a Lap 204 restart. "We got on the outside of the 41, racing with Kurt a lot during the day. I don't think he knew I was out there. We got on the outside of him in 1 and 2 and coming off of Turn 2, he just came up like his spotter didn't tell him I was there and I torn his bumper up. His bumper got stuck in my bumper. It was causing us a lot of problems so we ended up having to come down pit road and pull his bumper out of my bumper and patch a hole. Fix this and fix that. I didn't know if we were going to be as competitive with all that trouble but we ended up driving back up through there. Had a pretty good car, that helps us out in a situation like that." However, Earnhardt was able to work his way up through the field and was racing Matt Kenseth late for fifth-place. The two drivers competed for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2000 and have come through the Sprint Cup ranks together, dating back to when Kenseth finished second in the then Busch Grand National Series (now the XFINITY Series) to Earnhardt in 1998. "Right at the end I got to race pretty good with my buddy Matt Kenseth . Me and him have raced each other all our careers. It's always fun to sort of work together on the race track and race each other. He wanted that top-five finish and so did I. He was struggling pretty bad and I was having a hard time getting around him. I ended up finally getting around him so that was pretty cool." Now, the series shifts to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, IMS Radio, SiriusXM) where a new high-drag package will be run at the 2.5-mile track. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet has just one top-five finish in 15 starts at the Brickyard and is looking forward to running this new rules package for Indianapolis. The same type of package will also be run at Michigan International Speedway in August. "Got new rules, big spoilers, lot of drag. There's not more downforce. From what I am told there is a piece that they put on the bottom of the rear bumper that actually makes this package have less downforce in the back then what we have ran all year. I don't know how true that is. That's what Jeff Gordon 's been telling me. So can't really call this the high downforce package, it's just a high drag. We'll see how the racing is and looking forward to it. Should be an interesting weekend for everybody." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Student of the sport visits Daytona facility, calls video archive the 'Holy Grail' It's the room in back, hidden behind the large steel door where humidity and temperature are constantly monitored. Walk down the hallway, past the trophies and timing equipment, beyond the library and the filing cabinets overflowing with photographs. Just beyond the autographed pace car and the workbench that held who knows how many toolboxes through the years. Step inside and be greeted by history. From floor to ceiling, on the left and right, footage of races and television shows, reel after reel after reel containing a video timeline of sorts of NASCAR is stored here. For a history buff such as Dale Earnhardt Jr ., the room is as significant as the 2.5-mile track located barely a mile away. "There's a lot of neat stuff in here," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said while visiting the ISC Archives and Research Center, located near Daytona International Speedway, earlier this month. "I think the photos are important; the film is overwhelming to me because I love to watch old races and sort of get an idea of what it was like back then and that's really the best way to do it. It's awesome to see this stuff being taken care of. "As a collector of old races and old film, that's sort of the Holy Grail back there." Points races, special events (Busch Clash, Budweiser Duel, Sprint All-Star Race) and even movies can be found here. It's what might or might not be here, though, that interests Earnhardt Jr . His father, seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Dale Earnhardt , scored his first win at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1979. NASCAR races weren't carried live on network television at the time and only select events, such as the Daytona 500 , received abbreviated coverage. The '79 Daytona was the first to be carried live from start to finish by CBS. "That (Bristol) race wasn't televised, wasn't broadcast. So there isn't even a partial digital copy being traded among those … groups out there that are in those inner circles. That's who I deal with … they are trading races that were broadcast. Someone had the opportunity to record them off television. A lot of this stuff here is just raw footage that the public doesn't have access to. So now I know where to go." Earnhardt said he has seen footage of his father's '79 BMS win "in highlights … so I know it exists." Outside of that particular race, he said "any footage that’s unobtainable from '79, '80," interests him. "Dad's first two years. Besides that, I'm a big '70s guy I guess. Any of the races from the '70s, because a lot of stuff in the '80s was broadcast … you can obtain it through trades and whatnot working with guys that are in those collector groups. So a lot of things in the '70s is unique because it’s one of a kind." The photo library turned up, among other things, pictures of driver Jimmy Means, a childhood hero. Earnhardt Jr . and Brad Means, Jimmy's son, often spent race days together in the garage. Herb Branham, senior manager for the Archives & Research Center, presented Earnhardt Jr . with another special memento – a framed set of photos of Earnhardt's grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt . "That's going up on the wall," Earnhardt said proudly. A final stop before heading back to the track put Earnhardt behind the desk of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. One of the latest additions to the archives, the room is a re-creation of the office used by France during much of his tenure as the head of the sanctioning body. The desk, furniture and fixtures came from France's original office. "This is one place I never thought I'd be, in Big Bill’s office sitting at his desk in his chair," Earnhardt said. "What a special place. "Not only is this where you can find a lot of history, but somebody's here taking care of it. I appreciate NASCAR, everything they do to hold onto that history and keep it in good shape." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Earnhardt Jr . among the drivers who tested at Chicagoland this week RELATED: New qualifying for Indianapolis, Michigan NASCAR isn't likely to introduce any new aerodynamic packages for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , but moving forward, track-specific packages are expected to become the norm for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And Dale Earnhardt Jr . says he's just fine with such a move. "Absolutely. I think that makes the racing more interesting," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said during a break in Wednesday's open test session at Chicagoland Speedway. "I think it's more interesting for the fans to go through that cycle of learning about these packages and what they do and what type of racing they create. I think it would be really a feather in the cap for the networks. It would give them so much information and ammo to broadcast and put on a good show. Plus I think ... it's a good way to sort of tweak and adjust the racing to make better racing at that track." Earnhardt was one of four drivers who spent three days testing at the 1.5-mile track. On Monday and Tuesday, Earnhardt joined Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Sam Hornish Jr . ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) and JJ Yeley ( BK Racing ) for a two-day Goodyear tire test. Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) and Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) joined the group on Wednesday for the open portion of the test. It is, Earnhardt said, "a great time to be involved in the sport." "For me, it's exciting to go through these (changes)," he said. "You know, this is a three-day test and normally I hate testing, but it's been fun trying to learn and understand, so I'm excited just to see what happens – whether this stuff works, fails, whatever – but it's fun to go through it. Good to rearrange the furniture in the living room, so to speak, to something different. "It was same-old, same-old for so long, so this is kind of neat and exciting – unprecedented really. They used to cut the spoilers and trim them for makes and models throughout the year and adjust to try to level the playing field, but this is a big deal, really, to change the whole thing for everybody at this track and then try something so extreme at another track." Likewise, he said, aero package changes for Indianapolis and Michigan – where a taller spoiler will produce high drag, "is really extreme and should really alter the racing and what it looks like there. What it'll look like, I don't know. But it's not going to be the same. Fans are going tune in to see that, whatever it is that happens. That's great." At Chicago, Goodyear officials wanted to confirm their tire selection for the upcoming kickoff to the Chase. It's a similar tire to the one run at Texas and Homestead. RELATED: Learn more about Chicagoland Speedway Teams wanted to gather as much information as possible before returning here Sept. 18-20 for the start of the 10-race Chase. On Monday, Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales for Goodyear, told SiriusXM NASCAR that the Chicago test would also include the lower downforce package used this past weekend at Kentucky Speedway. "Not saying that it's an option for September but we're on the race track, let's get a look at it and see if it shows us the same results that it did earlier in the year at Charlotte and when we tested it at Darlington just a couple of weeks ago," Stucker said. Teams will also run a lower downforce aero package at Darlington in September. According to Earnhardt , there were issues with the current tires using the lower downforce package at Chicago, however. "We saw the tires tearing up," he said. "We tore up from right-front tires. (Martin) tore up one, I tore up one, (Hornish) tore up one, and when Goodyear sees that, man, the red flag comes out and you've got to slow down and there's just not enough time to really prepare for the right tire and get the right tire on the car to get it ready for this race in the Chase. "So I think we run the 2015 current package that we ran all year here, and who knows what'll happen next year, though." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Junior explains events that led up to incident at Kentucky RELATED: Danica rips, bumps Junior " Listen: Patrick vs. Earnhardt on the radio Dale Earnhardt Jr . had a bad night at Kentucky. You've heard about his run-in (run-into?) with Danica Patrick . On "The Dale Jr . Download" on Diry Mo Radio, Earnhardt detailed how the night unfolded with crippling brake problems. "Admittedly, Kentucky's not one of my best tracks, and the rain didn't help things," Earnhardt said. He learned a lot in the XFINITY race and hoped to carry some of that knowledge from his eighth-place run Friday night into Saturday night's Cup race. But the trouble started when he forgot to flip some switches. "I forgot to turn on switches that cool the brakes and keep the tire temps down. We took off running there in the first run and the brakes started fading a little bit. Luckily, the caution came out and I was able to get the switches on. "Come down pit road, pull the tape off the brakes and that should fix it. Everything should go back to normal and the pedal should come back, and that's not what happened. It continued to get worse and worse each run." The No. 88 car was pretty good, definitely top 10, Earnhardt said, but things kept getting worse from there. "We ended up having a lot of brake problems. It got so bad at one point that if I didn't pump the brakes all the way down the straightaway, it would go to the floor in the corner. So we're sitting there pumping the brakes, pumping the brakes, pumping the brakes lap after lap after lap. Just staying out there tyring not to get passed til we fixed it. "Caution would come out, we'd bleed the right front. Run out of time. Bleed the brakes on the left front. … But it would eventually get hot on the long run. "…Anyhow, I started taking it easy, sort of running along pumping the brakes a lot. I had just let Danica go by and down the back straightaway I'm pumping the brakes and they're not … I can't pump 'em all the way to the floor on the straightaway cause you don't want to slow the car down while you're trying to accelerate. You're just trying to get the fluid up, get the pedal up, but when we got to the corner, I mash the brake and it went all the way to the floor. I let off the brakes and mashed it again. At this point I'm gonna hit her. I let off the brakes and mashed it again and it goes to the floor and I ran into the back of her. There's wasn't nothing I could do about it." Junior said the fact that he hit Patrick saved him from going into the wall, so that was the "silver lining" of the incident. MORE: Highlights from Patrick's 100 Cup races "She flew off the handle, got pissed off. Our spotters communicated and told her about the brakes. She still ran into us on pit road for whatever damn reason." Junior doesn't really blame Patrick for being mad, admitting he's been in that position before, too, and has lost his cool at times. But he's not happy about what transpired after their wreck, either. "That just brings a lot of unwanted attention to both of us for the wrong reasons." After that, a full replacement of brake fluid helped, and the No. 88 came home 21st. All said, Junior was happy with a car that was still able to pass amid pumping the brakes. And the team learned a lot heading into Darlington Raceway, which is the next race to use a similar low downforce package on Sept. 6. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
After having brake issues all night Dale Earnhardt Jr . collides with Danica Patrick sending her car for a spin at Kentucky Speedway.
No. 88 team changed rear gear Sunday morning RELATED: Need to adjust your Fantasy Live lineup? Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start from the rear in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Dover International Speedway after the team changed a rear gear in his No. 88 Chevrolet on Sunday morning. The No. 88 team changed a rear gear this morning and will start at the rear of the field. This new rule started just prior to the 600. — Laura S. (@Hendrick88Team) May 31, 2015 Earnhardt Jr . had qualified 16th in Friday's session. In a pair of Saturday practice session, the No. 88 came in ninth and 19th. Junior has one win in 30 starts at Dover, and it came in 2001. He's earned a top-10 finish in four of the past six races at the 1-mile concrete oval. Will be a tough hot race today. @MonsterMile can be exasperating. We're starting in the rear due to replacing a broken gear. Time to suit up — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 31, 2015
Hendrick driver gives honest assessment of where organization is right now RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race " See all 43 paint schemes LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the only driver other than Kyle Busch to win one of the past five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. However, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is aware that the four-team organization he calls home has been a bit off in recent weeks, especially compared to that of Joe Gibbs Racing , in its first year of fielding four cars. "I think you got to be honest with yourself," Earnhardt Jr . said Friday at Pocono. "The Gibbs guys have found more speed. They look like over the last couple of weeks to be a lot stronger and that we're not on top of the mountain anymore, by ourselves anymore at least. They found some speed and we need to combat that with speed of our own." In the past five races, JGR has four wins (all by Busch) and nine top fives. During that same stretch, Hendrick has just one win and three top fives ( Earnhardt won at Daytona and has another top-five finish). And since that win at Daytona, Hendrick Motorsports as an organization has led just two laps in the past three races, while JGR has led 330. "It's business as usual as far as I can see," Earnhardt said. "We definitely understand when we don't perform well. Last week was frustrating. I don't think we've been too thrilled over the last month about how things have gone for us. From Rick (Hendrick) on down, you get the impression that things need to be better and everyone needs to work harder. "We have meetings every Tuesday. We had that meeting with the team and then we have a meeting that all the drivers and the crew chiefs are together, Rick's there. We have that meeting every Tuesday and everybody, whether we are all running great, we talk about how to get better. And if we aren't running well at all, we talk about how to get better. Even when things are going good, you see areas where you need to keep working. Because you know it cycles in this sport." Things do indeed cycle around. Last season, Hendrick won 13 races to JGR's two. And this season both organizations have six wins. As things stand now, if Busch can get into the top 30 in points by the regular-season finale at Richmond, JGR will likely send all four of its drivers into the Chase. And while Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt have clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are still looking for that elusive win, although each hold spots in the provisional Chase Grid based on their point positions. "It's a never-ending pursuit to build the fastest race car week in, week out," Earnhardt said. "And it looks like right now it's a mad scramble to get ready for the Chase. I'd love to be sitting here three-tenths faster than everybody and fighting only my teammates for the win. We need to work a little harder to get a little more and be ready for the Chase to be able to get out there and compete. "It definitely looks like our competition has improved and so I think we can be honest with ourselves. We definitely aren't where we want to be. But I've seen it before. These guys are working on it every single day trying to find that speed and make that difference back up and put ourselves back to have the advantage on the straightaways and in the corners. I'm not too worried about it. We got the best resources. We got the best bossman, and he doesn't quit and he doesn't settle for second. He's in there pushing everybody everyday." The sport's most popular driver will look to turn the recent fortunes of the organization around on Sunday in the Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway where he qualified 15th. Junior has a favorable history in recent years at Pocono, completing the season sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events last year, and has four top fives in his past five races here. In June, he finished 11th in a race won by Martin Truex Jr , which snapped a five-race win streak at Pocono for Hendrick. After finishing the opening practice session in 14th place, Earnhardt was a bit disappointed but said the team learned what was needed for race trim. "We will see what we have (Saturday)," said Earnhardt . "I'm really anxious to get ourselves back into race trim for those practices (Saturday) and see how we can sort our stuff out and see where we really are. We've always run good here, there shouldn't be any issues. We showed up with some issues. I'm anxious to get to work on the car and see where we can figure out where we are going to be and be competitive." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Hendrick driver upbeat despite not pulling off third straight win at Pocono RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . came to Pocono Raceway looking to join the select company of Bobby Allison and Tim Richmond as the only drivers to win three straight races at the Tricky Triangle. And while that didn't happen for the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet, his reaction on pit road after the Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 wouldn't have given away an 11th-place finish. "I had so much fun today," Earnhardt said after the race, his first result outside the top 10 at Pocono in his last five starts at the 2.5-mile track. "My car was awesome, we were passing five, 10 cars on restarts, having a blast." Earnhardt started the race 20th and by Lap 20, found himself in the top 10. On Lap 75, he was running in second place and looked to be making his way toward the lead. He would spend a good amount of the next 50 circuits in the top five before restarting sixth on Lap 126. On that restart, Earnhardt made contact with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne , resulting in some left-rear quarter-panel damage on the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy. Junior went from sixth to 12th in a short span before pitting under the next caution on Lap 131. He explained what happened after the race. "I can't visually picture what exactly I saw coming off of Turn 2, but I thought I was up on the quarter-panel of the 2 ( Brad Keselowski )," Earnhardt said. "I knew the 5 (Kahne) was down there, and I thought the 2 yanked off the wall as if he had almost hit the fence or something. He sort of yanked the car to the left, and I saw that and moved and hit the 5. Tore the left side of my car up. I'm sorry whatever it did to Kasey. I'm sure it didn't help him being run into like that." Junior restarted in 28th on Lap 134 and in two green flag laps had moved up to 17th before another caution came out. He was able to do something similar on the next restart on Lap 140, moving up to 11th before the last caution of the day occurred. From there, he couldn't work his way into the top 10 over the final green flag run of 16 laps, despite recording the most green flag passes (83) and second-most quality passes (41) on the day, according to NASCAR loop data. "I'm racing hard. It's so hard to pass here. You got to take every position you can and when you get a position on a guy, when you can get to his quarter-panel and draft, you got to go." Earnhardt also didn't think the team's pit stall did them any favors, a result from their worst starting spot since the April race at Richmond International Raceway . The 88 team had stall No. 12, which was right in the middle of the first block of 24 stalls on pit road at Pocono. "We had a really bad pit stall behind the 4," Earnhardt said. "They had to pick last because of their penalty and ended up forced into the stall behind us. So we had to come around him all day and the 16 come around us all day. So we're terrible getting in our stall, losing several spots because of that. And that cost us a lot." Still, on a day where he could have been disappointed by his showing and seeing Hendrick's five-race winning streak at Pocono end, the sport's most popular driver remained very upbeat. "We had a good enough car to run in the top three. Probably not win the race, but I had a blast." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule