News & Media


Earnhardt anxious to find superspeedway solution

November 14, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Looking forward to Tuesday test at Daytona in effort to break up two-car drafts

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made no secret of his dislike for the current method of two-car drafting on NASCAR's biggest superspeedways that enables cars to turn their fastest lap times.

Testing at Daytona International Speedway has been characterized as so dull by some drivers, they said a monkey could do their job at the track. But when NASCAR scheduled a one-day test Tuesday "in an effort to evaluate and prepare aerodynamic baseline packages for the Jan. 12-14, 2012 Preseason Thunder Test in Daytona," Earnhardt said there was no question he'd be there.

"My big goal is to help NASCAR accomplish what their goals are in the test. Apparently they put this test together last-minute for a reason. We'll go down there and they'll let us know exactly what they're wanting to do, what they're trying to accomplish, what they're trying to try."

--DALE EARNHARDT JR.

"It's really important," Earnhardt said. "I want to be able to give them the best feedback I can to give them the solutions they're looking for so that we can, with confidence, go into Daytona in February and expect to put together a great show for the fans that will be there and that will be watching on TV."

NASCAR expects at least seven cars from five teams to attend the session, including Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports' Nationwide Series driver Aric Almirola for Hendrick Motorsports, David Ragan and Richard Petty Motorsports ally Marcos Ambrose for Roush Fenway Racing, Joey Logano for Joe Gibbs Racing, Martin Truex Jr. for Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Nemechek in his own NEMCO Motorsports car that's primarily doing engine testing, a team spokesman said.

While part of the test is the continuing evaluation of the Electronic Fuel Injection system NASCAR will debut in 2012 and the appropriate air-restrictor to use with it to limit top speed, the greater purpose is assumed to be finding a way to break-up the effectiveness of tandem drafts.

Earnhardt said that's his main purpose in coming to this test. Earnhardt won seven of his 18 career Cup Series victories at Daytona and Talladega when mass-pack drafting was the norm.

Although he pushed his Hendrick teammate, five-time defending Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, to Johnson's win earlier this year at Talladega, Earnhardt would like to revert to the former style of drafting and said he'd gladly alter his team's normal test plan to achieve it.

"My big goal is to help NASCAR accomplish what their goals are in the test," Earnhardt said. "Apparently they put this test together last-minute for a reason. We'll go down there and they'll let us know exactly what they're wanting to do, what they're trying to accomplish, what they're trying to try.

"It's a little bit different than what your typical goals are when you go testing. Most of the time they're a little more personal, like you're trying to do whatever you can to make your car fast, work with your team, learn, put together notes.

"This test here will be a little different where you're working with NASCAR and the goals will be a little different. You'll have to open your mind up a little bit to try new things and try to give the best feedback you can."

Earnhardt said he's thought about ways to affect the desired changes but was taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"I think that the ideas that I have that I hope that we'll try are very similar to theirs," Earnhardt said. "I'm sure they're going to bring every feasible option and we'll try to get that out on the race track."

Earnhardt said the limited number of cars might have the biggest effect on what they can achieve.

"The difficult part is going to be simulating race conditions," Earnhardt said. "Say they bring out a small spoiler, this, that and the other. We got to go out there and try to push each other around the race track with it, hope that that doesn't work. It could be potentially a dangerous situation. You got to be careful and you hope to have a safe test."

Earnhardt said his plan was to be the ultimate team player.

"You want to help NASCAR -- I want to help NASCAR," Earnhardt said. "I want to be an ambassador for the sport, do my part, make the sport better. That's what [Tuesday] will be about."

NASCAR plans to have cars on track from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET and after a half-hour lunch break, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Spectators can view the test for free in a section of the Oldfield Grandstand with access through the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office.