“I was probably quarter throttle toward the end of them runs, even on the straightaway’s,” Earnhardt Jr. said about the STP 500. “There just wasn’t no point in mashing the gas any further than that. I was real patient all day in saving the left rear, saving the left rear and just waiting until the end, see where we’d be. I couldn’t afford to run any harder if I wanted to be competitive on the end of these runs.”
Earnhardt Jr. said he was encouraged by his crew chief Steve Letarte, patience and discipline helped him at Martinsville, a track that is known to eat up tires.
“He does a great job of keeping my mind focused on the tasks,” said Earnhardt. “There’s several different things you’re doing in the car during a run, and you can easily get yourself carried away and race a guy and forget taking care of your car and taking care of your left-rear tire. It’s easy to get swept up in the competition of things, and he’s good at sort of cheerleading you along the way and running the show.”
“I’ll be missing this next year,” Earnhardt Jr. said about Letarte. “There’s nobody like him.”
Earnhardt Jr. is going to Texas Motor Speedway with the confidence of a victory behind him this season, a crew chief who believes in him and he has said that, ‘the new system definitely allowed us to be more carefree.’
TMS is a track where Earnhardt Jr. received his first victory, April 2, 2000. Since then Earnhardt Jr. has won two Coors Light Pole Awards, both for the spring races, in April 2001, and 2008, he has led 448 laps in his 23 races at the track. He also finished runner-up last fall to his Hendrick Teammate Jimmie Johnson.
Qualifying for the 18th Annual Duck Commander 500 will be televised on Fox Sports 2, on Saturday, April 5, at 3:00 p.m. eastern time, with the race coverage on Sunday on Fox with coverage beginning at 3:00 p.m. eastern time.