NASCAR & Auto Racing

Criticism no worry, Earnhardt Jr. says, but he won't change

DOVER, Del. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that he figures somebody is going to criticize him no matter how he handles a given situation, so he's not overly concerned about the blowback about the nature of his radio conversations with crew chief Tony Eury Jr.

"I would love to be calmer under those types of situations, I would," Earnhardt Jr. said. "And I was, when I first started, I was. Then I got called lackadaisical. I got compared to my father and his determination. I got questioned about if I quit partying so much and focused and this, that and the other.

"So now I am on the chip and want it more than anybody else and I am getting hell for getting too excited. Regardless of how I act, somebody is going to criticize me one way or another and find an angle.

"I don't really want to change because I don't want to lose my enthusiasm and I don't want it to matter less. I want it to matter as much as it matters to me. If that means it is going to get me excited when things don't go right, I just need to be better at controlling that."

Team owner Rick Hendrick admonished Earnhardt Jr. during the race last weekend at New Hamsphire to keep his cool.

"I think Rick likes being in the middle of it because it is fun," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I don't know of any driver on the race track that doesn't get hot under the collar. I don't do it every race. I've had some real good ones you all missed apparently. Last week wasn't my best.

"The Chase is real important to me. My determination has never been higher. Those things are hard to harness, you know, when you are trying to accomplish what you want to accomplish. You are leading the race all day and things go away and the car changes and there is no answer.

"That is all you want is an answer."