Jul 4, 2014, 12:45 PM EST
In his mind, he knows what he has to do in order to claim a win that would make him the sixth Sprint Cup driver in history to sweep both Daytona races in the same year.
“I have a pretty good understanding of what I was going through and what I was thinking through the last 100 miles of the 500,” Earnhardt said Thursday at Daytona.
“I understand what was working for me and what mentality I need to have. You just really have to crack the whip and push yourself mentally as hard as you can for every position.”
Earnhardt recalled the importance of not giving up the lead during February’s Great American Race in order to control the field on restarts and have lane choice.
“You had to keep reinforcing to yourself as you were running, that if someone would get up beside you for the lead, how important it was not to let that person have the position,” he said.
“You had to run extremely aggressive side drafting and try to box them in on the fence. You wanted to make it really hard on them to take a position away.”
He also hopes that this aggressiveness will help him erase his surprisingly poor result at ‘Dega in May, which is still a source of embarrassment for NASCAR’s most popular driver.
As that race went into its latter stages, Earnhardt opted to fall toward the back in order to avoid potential crashes. However, he was unable to make up ground in the end and later received a lot of criticism from the NASCAR fan base.
It wasn’t the first time an athlete has had an educated decision backfire in the middle of a contest, and it won’t be the last. But Earnhardt still appears to be stung a bit by the backlash he took.
“I think when I was out there running this year, I got real selfish at Talladega, and how the result affected anyone – I never took into account,” said Earnhardt, who said he learned some lessons from that ill-fated day.
“I was just out there really thinking about me, and what I thought, and what I wanted to do, and how frustrated I was. I forgot that there was a team behind me, and depending on me. Lot of fans there to see us race showed up to spend hard-earned money, so it was a difficult thing to go through.”
But that’s in the past now and Earnhardt is focusing on attaining the aforementioned Daytona sweep, which will no doubt be a tough task. Before Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson pulled off that feat last year, it hadn’t been done for 31 years (Bobby Allison, 1982).
However, Earnhardt is up for the challenge.
“I would love to sweep the races at Daytona because that is a cool thing, but I just love winning here,” Earnhardt said. “So to go to Victory Lane here regardless of what we did in February, would mean a lot to me.”
Feb 27, 2015, 4:00 PM EST
One of California’s more prestigious racing awards has its nominees revealed.
Feb 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Indy Honor Flight event to be held at CGR shop in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Feb 27, 2015, 2:30 PM EST
Massa says that the main thing is that Alonso is okay and unhurt following his hefty crash in testing last week.
Feb 27, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
17-year-old has just one day of testing left before making his F1 debut in Australia.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:30 PM EST
Champions emerge on in a cold finale to 2015 Cooper Tires Winterfest.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
First run for the VJM08 was “remarkable”, but there is still plenty to be caught up with at Force India.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
German driver not happy with the setup on his W06 Hybrid despite posting the fastest time of winter testing so far in Barcelona.
Feb 27, 2015, 12:01 PM EST
The German team finally goes quickest in testing, sending a statement of intent out to the rest of the field.
Feb 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
F1 Commission agrees on changes for 2016 season in a bid to help aid investigations into accidents.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:32 AM EST
American driver secures a seat in GP2 after a turbulent 2014 campaign.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EST
FIA confirms that Manor Marussia does have a place on the grid in 2015, relying it complies with the new technical regulations.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
26 days after the rest of the F1 field, Force India gets its 2015 car out on track for the first time.
Feb 27, 2015, 7:41 AM EST
Spaniard posts a video on YouTube giving an update on his condition.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Brazilian driver still believes that Mercedes has the best car in F1 this year.
Feb 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Briton still manages to finish third on Thursday, but is limited to just 48 laps following the power unit issue.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EST
F1 rookie happy with the final raft of updates on the STR10 ahead of the first race of the year in Australia.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Spanish racer will get a chance to test the E23 Hybrid out on track at least once in 2015.
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