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Dale Jr.'s Chevrolet Sustains No Damage in Test Session Incident

By Mike Davis, JR Motorsports | Article Published 1/11/2013
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2012) – The second day of NASCAR testing at Daytona International Speedway produced the first big multi-car incident of 2013, as approximately 10 cars were caught up in an accident during drafting practice Friday afternoon. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet sustained no damage.

Earnhardt was positioned toward the front of the pack when contact between himself and the No. 9 Ford of Marcos Ambrose was made. Earnhardt took evasive action when Ambrose’s spinning car shot across the backstretch. SPEED Channel’s Bob Dillner and other members of the media interviewed Earnhardt after the accident:

What happened out there?
“Marcos was sort of backing up to me a little bit, which is what we do in the draft. We just had a hard time getting our bumpers lined up. There is a roll bar on the front of my car. It was the first time I had pushed a Ford, and his car sat up on top of that roll bar. And then I was kind of wheel-barrowing him around a little bit and ended up getting him turned I guess. I don’t know. I was hoping I didn’t start it, but I don’t know if I did. It tore up a lot of cars. There are a lot of guys down here trying to work, so it’s unfortunate. I pushed a Toyota pretty good. We lined up with a Chevy. But for whatever reason our two cars (9 and 88) didn’t work together very well. Hopefully everybody is all right.

Is it back to old-school (racing) a little bit with the manufacturers? Do things work differently in the draft than what we’re used to?
“You definitely have to be more careful pushing people. The cars are really tail-happy and real loose. They’ve cut the downforce in half on the back of the cars, so they’re a little bit more of a handful, especially in the back of the draft where the air is real dirty. You’ve got to work on your car a little bit to get it hooked up, and that’s good. It gets the cars to handle and probably creates some differences between certain people as far as how good their cars handle. That’ll make the racing a little bit better. I don’t think we will be able to tandem (draft) unless we take the cars back to the shop and get ’em to line up better.”

What is the plan for the rest of the day (for the 88 team) at the test?
“We’ll go back to single-car runs. I don’t think anybody wants anymore drafting after that. We’ll go back to single-car runs. We’ll probably be here to five o’clock tomorrow working on our cars. We’ve got to find a little more speed.”

Does this really change the mentality here now?
“Pretty much, yeah. It’s going to take a lot more care and concentration and just knowing kind of what is at stake. Certain cars you line up okay with and can push fine and for whatever reason mine and Marcus’ (Ambrose) car didn’t line up good. We got our bumpers together and it hooked him. For whatever reason you’ve got to be careful who you are working with.”

Do you think the racing is going to be better?
“Yeah, I think the racing will be better because it doesn’t look like we will be able to tandem. The cars are down 50 percent on downforce in the back. They are real tail happy. A lot of guys are really having a lot of snaps and moments out there on the race track where they are getting loose. With that in mind you are definitely not going to be pushing anybody through the corner.”

Back to the way it was when you were dominating plate races?
“Well I’m not setting it up to say I’m going to run better because of this package, but the racing will be different. It’s definitely a movement back toward the way the cars used to be.”

Did it surprise you that all of this unfolded an hour into it and that the cars didn't match up?
“Yeah, I was real surprised. Marcus’ (Ambrose) car was a bit of a handful. He was really loose into the corner and off of the corner, but I thought we were just going to get on going down the back straightaway. He was going to drive to the inside of the leader and take the lead. For whatever reason it just didn’t work.”

Is this a Ford rear to a Chevy nose thing? Or is this a Marcos Ambrose and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. thing?
“No, it’s not really between me and him. He didn’t do anything wrong. I think it was my responsibility not to wreck him. He doesn’t have much control at that point. That was the first Ford I had pushed. I don’t know. You don’t want to push too many Ford’s if you can help it.”

Standings
After GEICO 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Joey Logano 3121 0
2 +1 Kevin Harvick 3117 -4
3 +1 Ryan Newman 3117 -4
4 +3 Denny Hamlin 3100 -21
5 +4 Matt Kenseth 3099 -22
6 -1 Carl Edwards 3099 -22
7 -1 Jeff Gordon 3093 -28
8 -- Kasey Kahne 3090 -31
9 -7 Kyle Busch 3086 -35
10 -- Brad Keselowski 3085 -36
11 -- Jimmie Johnson 3053 -68
12 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3045 -76
Full Standings