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. Scott Dixon captures Sonoma race win and 2015 IndyCar championship (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Dixon wins race, title in Sonoma in dramatic fashion.

  2. Sebastian Saavedra leads at halfway in IndyCar season finale (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Will Power and Juan Montoya must fight from the back of the field following an accident.

  3. Robin Miller pays tribute to Justin Wilson (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Robin Miller remembers Justin Wilson in this touching tribute.

  4. Webber elated with “awesome” first WEC victory

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    © FIA WEC © FIA WEC

    Webber and the no. 17 Porsche crew claimed their first win at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Sunday.

  5. INDYCAR confirms Chevrolet wins fourth straight Manufacturer’s Championship

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    ChevySTPdomination AP

    Chevrolet wins its fourth straight INDYCAR Manufacturer’s Championship.

  6. WATCH LIVE: IndyCar’s championship decided in Sonoma at 1 p.m. PT, 4 ET on NBCSN

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    SonomaTitle AP

    With heavy hearts, IndyCar moves ahead and will crown its champion this afternoon in Sonoma.

  7. WATCH: Red Bull Global Rallycross midseason review at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    GRCDaytona Getty Images

    Catch up on the Red Bull Global Rallycross season at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

  8. Maldonado: Good feeling heading into Italian GP weekend

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 21, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Maldonado keen to make up for his DNF in the Belgian Grand Prix at Monza.

  9. What to watch for: IndyCar at Sonoma (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    SonomaW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of the 16th and final round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma from Sonoma Raceway.

  10. Will Power fastest in final IndyCar practice at Sonoma

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    PowerWarmup AP

    Pole-sitter Will Power claimed the fastest time in the 30-minute session.

  11. Porsche’s no. 17 car surges to maiden WEC victory in 6 Hours of Nürburgring

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10:  The Porsche Team 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley drives during practice for the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone at Silverstone Circuit on April 10, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard claim their first WEC victory since joining forces at the beginning of the 2014 season.

  12. Grosjean: Lotus E23 Hybrid better suited to Monza than Spa

    Aug 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 23:  Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus celebrates on the podium after finishing third in the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 23, 2015 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Grosjean sets his sights on repeating his third-place finish in Belgium last weekend.

  13. Audi boss Ullrich laughs off continual F1 rumors

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 11:  Wolfgang Ullrich of Austria, Head of Audi Motorsport looks on during practice on June 11, 2014 in Le Mans, France.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images) Getty Images

    “If somebody wants to go into Formula 1 and they think that they can do it from one to the next year, I think he shouldn’t try to do it.”

  14. Trefethen Family Vineyards combines Napa tradition, PWC racing at Sonoma

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT

    Lorenzo Trefethen. All Photos: Tony DiZinno Lorenzo Trefethen. All Photos: Tony DiZinno

    While there’s no shortage of wineries in Napa Valley, few have racing tie-ins, and fewer still get a racing tie-in at Sonoma Raceway – here’s the story of the Trefethen Family Vineyards.

  15. MotoGP: Rossi wins British GP as Marquez crashes out

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT

    Italy’s Valentino Rossi of Movistar Yamaha on his way to finish in fourth position during Moto GP qualifying at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, England, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) AP

    Rossi wins a wet-weather thriller to regain the lead of the MotoGP world championship.

  16. MotorSportsTalk’s IndyCar championship pre-Sunday post round-up

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    GoldenGatePosts AP

    In case you missed it, a look back at the week’s worth of coverage in the lead-up to Sonoma.

  17. Webber: WEC something for Button to consider for 2016

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:00 AM EDT

    during warm-up for the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 13, 2015 in Le Mans, France. Getty Images

    Webber jumped from F1 to WEC at the end of 2013 with Porsche, but could Button do the same?

  18. WATCH LIVE: Sonoma qualifying at 3:30 p.m. PT, 6:30 ET, on NBCSN

    Aug 29, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    QualsWatchLive AP

    Power is only active driver in the field with a pole since 2008 at Sonoma.