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Earnhardt discusses vacation, testing

NASHVILLE (Jan. 10, 2009) – Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, doesn’t think the lack of testing will impact his team negatively when the season opens next month.

“It gave a lot of the guys a lot more time at home with their families,” Earnhardt said during the Sprint Sound and Speed festival last Saturday in Nashville. “I thought it was a good change of pace. I don’t know if this will be the norm for years to come, but it was a nice little change of pace. “

Earnhardt spent most of his offseason with his family. He joined his uncles and cousin/crew chief Tony Eury Jr. on a hunting expedition in late December and then took his family on a trip.

That was the “first time me, Kerry (brother) and Kelly (sister) and my sister Taylor have ever been anywhere together as a group, so that was pretty exciting for us,” Earnhardt said. “I guess we all had to grow up a little bit and get a little older to appreciate being around each other.” 

He still raced here and there, helping John Henry, owner of the Red Sox, develop Iracing.com, a simulation Web site.

“I’ve run about 8,000 laps since Dec. 1 when I first got kind of on my vacation, if you will,” Earnhardt said.

Since then he also has spent more time at Whisky River, the bar he opened last year in Charlotte, N.C.

Earnhardt believes the slightly longer respite will enhance his team and ultimately that NASCAR’s ban on testing might even give the No. 88 crew an edge heading into the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15.

“We have all the technology, all the things, all the engineers, all the stuff we need to really simulate testing, have an idea of what the cars are going to do, how they’re going to react, so we should show up in the ballpark,” he said. “It should be an advantage for us due to the technology and personnel we have that can simulate and guesstimate where we are and get us in the ballpark when we show up for the racetrack”