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. WATCH LIVE: IndyCar, Indy Lights Carb Day at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    May 22, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Helio Castroneves after this past Sunday's first day of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. AP

    Watch Carb Day IndyCar and Indy Lights coverage, from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  2. What to watch for: IndyCar, Indy Lights Carb Day (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    May 22, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    SagePitStops Getty Images

    Still A LOT of stuff to watch for on Carb Day for the Verizon IndyCar Series, LIVE from 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  3. Here’s Friday’s jam-packed schedule for IMS Carb Day 2015

    May 22, 2015, 8:22 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Carb Day at IMS: always one of the busiest days of the year.

  4. UPDATED: Vautier to replace Huertas at last-minute for Indy 500

    May 21, 2015, 11:51 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    In a bizarre and truly 11th hour circumstance, Tristan Vautier appears set to replace Carlos Huertas in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

  5. IndyCar driver raises concern about design of wishbone that injured James Hinchcliffe in crash

    May 21, 2015, 5:57 PM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe James Hinchcliffe

    Oriol Servia says a connecting rod was removed that might have prevented the part from piercing the tub and critically injuring driver.

  6. GP2: Rossi storms to pole position in Monaco qualifying

    May 21, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    American driver claims his second pole position in GP2 with a mesmerising display in Monaco on Thursday.

  7. SPM targets Monday for next driver confirmation in No. 5 car as drivers await

    May 21, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    The No. 5 beyond Indy 500 could be Daly, Wilson, or A.N. Other.

  8. Formula E: Audi Sport ABT confirms unchanged line-up for season two

    May 21, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - JANUARY 08:  Daniel Abt poses for pictures next to his car during a paddock preview at Puerto Madero Street Race Track on January 08, 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Daniel Abt confirmed to be remaining with his family team for season two of the Formula E series.

  9. IndyCar confirms Boston race for 2016

    May 21, 2015, 3:47 PM EDT

    BostonStreetTrack

    Boston confirmed for 2016 and beyond in IndyCar.

  10. Ethan Ringel scores Indy Lights pole for Freedom 100

    May 21, 2015, 3:33 PM EDT

    Photo: IMS Photography, LLC Photo: IMS Photography, LLC

    SPM takes four of the top five spots on the Indy Lights grid.

  11. Alonso: New rules proof F1 went in the wrong direction

    May 21, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 21, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    The McLaren driver lends his support to the proposed changes to F1 for 2017.

  12. Button happy with refuelling return, but remains keen to see a tire war in F1

    May 21, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during previews to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 20, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    McLaren driver talks about the proposed changes for F1 ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

  13. Briscoe: “I’ve been made as comfortable as I could be in this situation”

    May 21, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    BriscoeIMS Getty Images

    Given the circumstances, Ryan Briscoe feels comfortable heading into his fill-in role for James Hinchcliffe in the Indianapolis 500.

  14. Bottas flattered by speculation linking him to Ferrari

    May 21, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 20:  Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams (rear) and Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari (front) attend the drivers press conference during previews to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 20, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Williams driver admits that he is flattered to be linked with a drive at a top team, but remains coy when asked about a possible move away for 2016.

  15. Briscoe officially confirmed in Hinchcliffe’s car for Indy 500

    May 21, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    Photo: SPM IndyCar Photo: SPM IndyCar

    Briscoe replacement for James Hinchcliffe made official Thursday morning.

  16. Hamilton: No doubt I’d re-sign with Mercedes

    May 21, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 20:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP walks in the paddock during previews to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 20, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Defending world champion says he never contemplated leaving Mercedes for another team.

  17. The 100th Indy 500 and GP of Indy 2016 dates are released

    May 21, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Photo: IMS Photo: IMS

    Logo and date for the 100th Indianapolis 500 is revealed.

  18. F1 Paddock Pass: Monaco Grand Prix (VIDEO)

    May 21, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (C) and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg (L) drive  during the first practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 21, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Will Buxton brings you all of the interviews and news ahead of the biggest event on the F1 calendar: the Monaco Grand Prix.

  19. Hamilton tops quiet second Monaco GP practice

    May 21, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 21:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 21, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton continues his good form by posting the fastest time in FP2 before the rain falls and limits running in Monaco on Thursday.

  20. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the Monaco Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET

    May 21, 2015, 7:46 AM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 21, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    Lewis Hamilton bids to double up in the second free practice session in Monaco on Thursday.