Skip to content

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants Brickyard 400 win, but forget about him doing the ‘double’

Jul 26, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

junior letarte brickyard 2014 Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t care about Sunday’s chance to become one of the few drivers to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year.

All Junior wants is to get that Brickyard 400 trophy for the first time in his career, something that has eluded him for nearly 15 years now.

“I’d love to win here,” Earnhardt said Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “This is such a historic racetrack regardless of whether we won Daytona or not. I really wouldn’t pair the two together as an accomplishment. But I wouldn’t think about it, I guess, like that.

“Just winning here alone would be tremendous. … This place just has so much history. The story of how this track came about and how it almost ended up being history in itself during the war. It’s just amazing what’s gone on here. I would love to win here and hope to be able to accomplish that at some point in my career.”

Much has been said about how this is Earnhardt’s final season with crew chief Steve Letarte, who will leave Hendrick Motorsports at season’s end to become a NASCAR on NBC TV analyst in 2015.

Winning the Daytona 500 was a great kickoff to their final season together, and adding the first Brickyard 400 title would only further enhance how special of a season this has been thus far – and one Earnhardt hopes become even more special during the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“Yeah, I mean, any race I win with Steve this year is very special because of his last year,” Earnhardt said. “So yeah, we’ll take anywhere, we’ll take a win anywhere.

“He’s one of the guys that’s one of the best on the box when it comes to strategy, and this style of race and the way the tires are going to play into that. This is right in his wheelhouse. I think he’s going to give us a great opportunity.”

But Earnhardt is also realistic. Not only does he have a mediocre past record at Indianapolis (14 starts, just one top-5 and three other top-10 finishes), he also had a disappointing qualifying effort Saturday (will start 23rd).

When asked if he thinks could be his best chance to win at Indianapolis, Earnhardt was honestly blunt.

“No, not really,” he said. “I think I’ve had some pretty good cars here in the past. I’ve had chances to win in the past and didn’t even know it.

“… I guess my point is we’ve had good cars in the past and just didn’t do the strategy just right. Somebody did it better than us or somebody made it on fuel and won the race or what have you, but we’ve had some good cars here.”

While Earnhardt would love to check a Brickyard 400 win off his bucket list, don’t look for him to follow Kurt Busch‘s lead and attempt the “double” of racing in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

“I don’t think I would,” Earnhardt said. “I know it’s a lot of preparation, and I think that it takes a certain mentality, a certain style of person. I think that Kurt has that mentality, has that ability to really get down and want to take on something like that.

“He’s sort of in a situation in his career where he can sort of juggle all those things. We’ve got so much going on, and I really never aspired to drive open wheel cars. I do follow the series and have some drivers I pull for, but I was always a stock car guy and just always wanted to race short tracks and bang on fenders.

“But I do have a lot of respect for what he did, and it was a great joy to cheer him on and support him. We all, everyone in the garage, wanted him to do well and to see him do well and accomplish what he did was a great thing I think for both series. So definitely it drew a lot of attention to both series.

“I enjoyed that, and I like seeing drivers do that, but I’m going to turn 40 next year, or this year actually, so I think I’ve got so much going on that I’d rather not pile that on to my plate.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. F1 and classic machinery at Goodwood, 2015, in photos

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    McLaren Formula One driver and 2009 World champion Jenson Button prepares to drive the ex Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4. Photo; Getty Images Getty Images

    A selection of images from the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

  2. Red Bull GRC: SH Rallycross premieres patriotic HAUS livery for MCAS

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    SH Rallycross’ HAUS livery for Red Bull GRC this weekend screams red, white and blue.

  3. Graham Rahal’s Fontana win was long overdue, and a long time coming

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    RahalWinGroup Getty Images

    Given how well they’ve run this year, it was really only a matter of time until Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won a race.

  4. Report: Filippi, Brabham set for IndyCar oval tests

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Josef Newgarden, Luca Filippi AP

    Luca Filippi and Matthew Brabham set for oval tests this Wednesday at Iowa Speedway.

  5. Young drivers star in mixed, primarily wet conditions at Watkins Glen

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    BurkettWG Getty Images

    This weekend’s miserable conditions at Watkins Glen offered a lot of young drivers a chance to shine.

  6. Report: Roger Penske intends to keep his ‘four aces’ in IndyCar

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    roger penske 2015 getty Getty Images

    The 2015 season is the first time Roger Penske has captained four teams on the IndyCar circuit. And it appears it will be full steam ahead with four teams going forward.

  7. Mario Andretti gets Jay Leno up to speed — and then some

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:53 PM EDT

    jay leno mario andretti getty 2015 Getty Images

    Comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno has spent his career making millions laugh. But recently, the joke was on Leno, so to speak – but in a good way.

  8. Racing legend Parnelli Jones featured in upcoming Indy 500 film

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    parnelli jones Getty Images

    If you’re a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, put this on your bucket list for next year.

  9. NHRA: Antron Brown looks to make Top Fuel fireworks this weekend

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    Antron Brown Getty Images

    With five races coming up in the next six weeks, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown knows how crucial this stretch of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season will be.

  10. Pippa Mann revels in career-best IndyCar finish at Fontana

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:47 PM EDT

    Pippa Mann earned a career-best 13th-place finish in Saturday's MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. Getty Images

    Finishing 13th in her Dale Coyne Racing Honda, Pippa Mann enjoyed the best showing of her IndyCar career in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

  11. After tough recent outings, Jack Hawksworth relishes 10th-place showing at Fontana

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    jack hawksworth 2015 Fontana getty Getty Images

    Jack Hawksworth enjoyed one of his better runs of 2015 in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

  12. MAVTV 500: Despite being nerve-racking to crazy, drivers glad safety won out

    Jun 29, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    briscoe crash fontana 2015 getty Getty Images

    Although it’s been two days since the MAV TV 500, a number of IndyCar drivers are not going to soon forget one of the wildest races the series has seen in a long time.

  13. Senna delighted with fourth in London ePrix after hard battle with Buemi

    Jun 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Bruno Senna of Brazil driving for Mahindra Racing during qualifying at Battersea Park Track on June 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Brazilian driver ends the Formula E season with his best finish of fourth.

  14. VisitFlorida.com Racing survives wet weather for Watkins Glen win

    Jun 28, 2015, 5:33 PM EDT

    VF90win Getty Images

    Westbrook and Valiante take their second win of the year at Watkins Glen.

  15. De Silvestro happy with London ePrix weekend, open to more Formula E starts

    Jun 28, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro during first practice on the second day of the 2015 FIA Formula E Visa London ePrix Championship at Battersea Park Track on June 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The IndyCar driver finished 11th and 12th in two races at the London ePrix this weekend.

  16. Rahal thanks fans, well-wishers on Twitter after overdue win Saturday

    Jun 28, 2015, 3:10 PM EDT

    Photo: Getty Images Getty Images

    Graham Rahal back on Twitter on Sunday after win on Saturday.

  17. Di Grassi: Formula E title lost with “joke disqualification” in Berlin

    Jun 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Championship contender Lucas di Grassi of Brazil during second pracctice on Day two of the 2015 FIA Formula E Visa London ePrix Championship at Battersea Park Track on June 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Brazilian driver remains upbeat despite losing out on the title to bitter rival Nelson Piquet Jr.

  18. Piquet “shocked” by turnaround that led to Formula E championship win

    Jun 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet JR celebrates at the end of the race after winning the inaugural World Championship title after the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Brazilian driver talks about his rise from the midfield to the title across the course of the inaugural Formula E season.

  19. WATCH: IndyCar’s frantic, thrilling MAVTV 500 to re-air at midnight ET on NBCSN

    Jun 28, 2015, 1:36 PM EDT

    MAVTV500replay Getty Images

    Watch a replay of yesterday’s crazy MAVTV 500 from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana either online via NBC Sports Live Extra, or on NBCSN tonight.

  20. Maldonado keen to keep up points streak at Silverstone

    Jun 28, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    Lotus F1 Team's Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado competes during the qualifying race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on June 20, 2015, ahead of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.  AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can the Lotus driver pick up some points for the third straight weekend at the British Grand Prix?