With all the bad luck Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had this season, including six engine failures in his No. 8 DEI Chevrolet, the sport’s most popular driver is a little wary heading to Atlanta.
“I don’t think there is a place on the tour where we’ve been as consistently fast and at the front only to have strange things happen in the final laps,” said Earnhardt Jr., who has one win at Atlanta. He qualified fifth fastest Friday night.
“It’s a lot like what has happened for the Bud team all year: we’re fast, we lead laps, we set ourselves up for victory and then ‘BAM!’ – something odd happens.
“We should have a lot more wins there, but we’ve missed out because of agonizing things like flat tires in the final five laps or a piece of metal getting lodged in my eye (in Nov. 2001),” he added. “We had that race won easily, and then suddenly I’m driving the last 30 laps with one eye open.”
But Junior was still looking forward to racing on the 1.5-mile D-shaped Atlanta oval.
“It’s one of my favorite places to go because it’s so damn fast,” he said.
“It really takes a lot of courage to keep that right foot planted when you go into Turn One at more than 200 miles an hour. But it’s a place where you can pick and choose your line, and that means two things: a fun race for the drivers and a very entertaining show for the fans.”