CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. was cautiously optimistic on Tuesday when he talked about the 2013 Chevrolet SS race car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet is participating with his NASCAR Sprint Cup colleagues in a two-day test of the 2013 cars. The sessions conclude today at the 1.5-mile oval.
"I think that the car has really awesome potential," Earnhardt said. "This car really gives me a lot of sensations that are similar to the old car that we ran four years ago or however long ago it was. It’s still early. I’m trying not to get too excited or form too big of an opinion or too solid of an opinion of the car. We have got a lot of things to learn about it. There are still some rules and things to be finalized and still a lot to learn. I think it’s important for us as the drivers and the teams to try and help NASCAR as much as we can. We are all sort of working toward the same goal this week, trying to put a good show on.”
The Cup competitors didn’t spend time passing during Monday’s session, and Earnhardt discussed several aspects of the car with the media after the morning session. He explained that being able to camber the right-rear tire a bit more would help with grip, and that overall, the new Chevrolet SS body was better aerodynamically. A proponent of the car, which recently was unveiled in Las Vegas, Earnhardt said he is excited to see how Hendrick Motorsports prepares for the 2013 season.
“The sport is going to be revolutionized again with this car,” Earnhardt said. “There are a lot of things that are unknowns, but I’m with a great company that sort of does really well under those kinds of circumstances. I’m fortunate in that regard. I can go into next year confident that we are going to put good cars on the track and I’m going to like the way they drive and I’m going to enjoy the races that we have.
“Again, I think the first 10 races of the season are the most important races as far as making the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup), putting down a good foundation of points. If you end up after those first 10 races around eighth or ninth or 10th that kind of seems to be where you end up fighting all year long. Just try to stay in the Chase. It’s a real tough mental battle and it wears on the team, it wears on the drivers that are in those positions. It’s nice to get out there and get up front early and stay there. That is our outlook, and I think that we are in a good position.”