DETROIT – While helping to unveil the brand-new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that will make its competition debut next season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick was asked about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final full-time Cup Series campaign.
So far this year, Earnhardt has earned one pole position, one top-five finish and four top-10s, leading 24 laps in the process.
While the driver is looking for more success the rest of the season, Hendrick noted that many of the results have been out of Earnhardt’s control.
“We have had the most unbelievably bad luck – break a valve spring, just get swept up in a wreck leading at Daytona, it just seems like the luck has been horrible,” he said.
But he sees the No. 88 team turning a corner, particularly as the races pile up with Earnhardt back in the car following his stint on the sideline in the second half of last season due to a concussion.
“I think any driver will tell you that you are a little bit rusty when you get back in the car,” Hendrick said. “I think Jeff Gordon will tell you the same thing when he got back in the car at Indy for the first time – it takes a few weeks to get the rust off. I think we haven’t performed as good and if we have a little bit better luck I look for a good weekend here in Michigan.”
Earnhardt has won twice at Michigan, most recently in the 2012 season. It is one of 10 tracks where he has accumulated eight or more top-five finishes, and one of eight where he has amassed at least 15 top-10s.
It makes this weekend an exciting opportunity for the No. 88 team to turn things around.
“He loves this track,” Hendrick said. “It means a lot for him to win here because of the heritage of Chevrolet. This track really fits his style. He likes to run up high and multiple grooves and I think he looks forward to coming here. I look forward to coming here with him.”
The Hendrick Motorsports owner noted what it would mean for Earnhardt to return to Victory Lane for what would be the driver’s 27th career NASCAR Cup Series win, but stressed that his legacy and impact on the sport have already been cemented.
“Of course, we would love to see him win and get in the playoffs and do great and even win the championship,” Hendrick said. “I think that would be great. But I think of all of the good things that he has done and all of the people he has helped. He has been a champion, he has won and when you see people like today just gravitate toward him, he’s been ambassador.
“He’s done a lot for a lot of people. Me included.”