CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is fired up and ready for his second-to-last NASCAR Cup Series race at his home track of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I grew up here and went to all the races here when I was a little kid,” Earnhardt said. “Some of the first memories of being at a 1.5-mile race track that is here at Charlotte.”
In preparation for this Sunday’s race, Earnhardt and No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives have been taking notes from teammate and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus.
“We totally eighty-sixed all that stuff we ran last week and we put in Jimmie’s setup,” Earnhardt explained. “Greg and Chad got real close this week and me and Jimmie even have been in communication.”
Earnhardt said that Johnson has always been willing to work closely with his teammates as they all prepare to take on various tracks.
“One of the things about Jimmie that I’ve always thought was pretty cool was that he’s always open to looking at other drivers traces and adjusting how he drives,” Earnhardt said. “He encourages me or any other teammate to do the same thing.”
With one practice and a qualifying run down, Earnhardt has two more practices to go before the green flag waves. He says he feels confident about knowing what needs to be done with track setup.
“It took me about three or four runs just to kind of get the line back down and understand what I needed to do as a driver, regardless of what the setup in the car was,” Earnhardt said. “We finally got some decent speed of us.”
The 600-mile race in his home state is one that he’s yet to conquer in his Cup career. Earnhardt has two top-five finishes and four top-10s at Charlotte with Hendrick Motorsports. This weekend, he said he’ll give it everything he’s got to make his final 600-mile race a memorable one.
“I would have guessed I’d have gotten a win here in a points race at some point, but it just hasn’t happened,” Earnhardt said. “We will keep digging this weekend and see what we can make out of this weekend.”