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.”
Jan 31, 2015, 10:30 AM EST
Highlights from the special event featuring NASCAR drivers and former NFL stars.
Jan 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EST
He may have risen rapidly up to a seat at Red Bull, but Daniil Kvyat is not feeling under pressure.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
All of the information you need for the first official F1 test of the year.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EST
Despite the team enjoying a record-breaking year in 2014, Hamilton is confident that Mercedes can extend its advantage in the new season.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:23 AM EST
Wendell Scott’s induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame completed a long journey for his family.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:44 PM EST
Five NASCAR legends achieve the sport’s highest honor.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
CLICK HERE for stream links to the special event involving former NFL greats and NASCAR drivers.
Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST
The son of NASCAR’s first African-American winner of a premier series race talks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Marty Snider about his father’s accomplishments.
Jan 30, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
CLICK HERE for stream links to tonight’s NBCSN coverage of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 Induction Ceremony in Charlotte, N.C.
Jan 30, 2015, 6:15 PM EST
Petty, a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of inductees, speaks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Kelli Stavast before tonight’s Class of 2015 ceremonies.
Jan 30, 2015, 6:00 PM EST
Brasilia cancellation provides the latest chapter in the roller coaster ride that has been IndyCar’s international dalliance.
Jan 30, 2015, 4:05 PM EST
Alex Bowman joins Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2015 season, replacing Michael Annett, who left for a ride at Scott Motorsports.
Jan 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EST
Coming up today: Live interviews and red carpet arrivals for tonight’s NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony; a closer look at the careers of all five inductees; Gridiron Challenge preview.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EST
2015 will be the first year that Hulkenberg has raced in F1 for two straight years with the same team.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:18 PM EST
Luca Filippi gets the opportunity several coveted, and will now have the chance to seize.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EST
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Jan 30, 2015, 1:45 PM EST
With Sauber, the Swede hopes he can continue to develop and make up for a difficult rookie year with Caterham.
Jan 30, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
Marco Andretti set for a new number while Andretti Autosport continues to sort out the rest of its IndyCar lineup.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EST
After boldly stating in 1999 that “all that can be achieved has been achieved”, Toyota will return to the WRC upon the next regulation change.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
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