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Apr 05, 2014 - 09:40 PM
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Dale Earnhardt Jr: Jr Motorsports Poised For Championship Run
Posted by: ASkyler on Apr 05, 2014 - 09:36 PM
Feature Articles
Dale Earnhardt Jr: Jr Motorsports Poised For Championship Run


By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

FORT WORTH, Tex. -- For Dale Earnhardt Jr. the driver, the number one item on his bucket list is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

For Dale Earnhardt Jr. the car owner, a NASCAR Nationwide Series title would be a perfect cap to the 2014 season -- and Earnhardt's JR Motorsports is making a concerted run at that goal.

With talented drivers Chase Elliott and Regan Smith in the fold, with the experience of Smith losing a large points lead in a midsummer swoon last year, and with strong support from Sprint Cup juggernaut Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt thinks JRM may have achieved the critical mass necessary to win a championship.

 

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"We want to win a championship so bad this year," Earnhardt said Friday night, after Elliott picked up his inaugural NNS win in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. "We feel like we learned a lot last year going through that process with Regan, and now we have two teams that are really capable of getting the job done.

"If everybody keeps their head on straight, let's everybody else ‑‑ all the (other) drivers in the series -- make all their mistakes, we should be in a good situation when we get to Homestead."

Earnhardt has a history of offering quality opportunities to as-yet-undiscovered drivers such as 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. Now JR Motorsports is on the verge of realizing the dream Earnhardt envisioned when he, sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and co-owner Rick Hendrick founded the company.

"I couldn't be prouder, really, of how we've come along in the last two or three years, the people that we have been able to acquire to help and improve our company, the bridge that we built with HMS to flow information on the engineering side, motors, and how they've improved," Earnhardt said.

"Everything is clicking along right now so we got a great opportunity this year to seize the moment."

WHAT FINAL FOUR?

While other members of the NASCAR community planned to attend Saturday night's NCAA basketball semifinals at nearby AT&T Stadium in North Texas, Joey Logano wasn't one of them.

"I just know racing," Logano said. "I don't really care about any other sport too much. I'm here to race and win a race. Whatever they want to do shooting hoops, they can keep on going with that. They don't need me there.

"I'm focused in on trying to win a race. I feel like, if I leave the race track, I get distracted and if I don't run well, that's going to be the reason why so I'm not going to give myself an opportunity to have an excuse."

Logano has adopted that attitude to the fullest extent since joining Team Penske before the 2013 season.

"I've probably taken that to the extreme over the last two years," Logano said. "If you're looking to be the best, you've got to work harder than everybody. You've got to figure out how to be better. I'm in the garage until it closes all the time, just to be with the guys. If something comes up, I can help them with some answers or help them with some setup stuff.

"The more I can learn about the race car and what direction they're going with changes and why they're doing it, the better information I can feed back to them and whether it's the right or wrong answer for our car. The more involved I am, the better I feel about it -- and it limits that opportunity to have an excuse at the end of the race for me."

SHORT STROKES

Suffering from what he thought was a 24-hour bug, Austin Dillon had brother Ty Dillon take some laps in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet during Saturday morning's practice, just in case he might need a relief driver. …

Kurt Busch paced Saturday's practice with a lap at 194.630 mph -- in a backup car. Last Sunday's winner at Martinsville Speedway blew a left rear tire and smacked the wall without about 10 minutes left in Friday's opening practice, forcing the team to roll out the backup.


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