It's been some month for Dale Earnhardt Jr. A week before hitting the track at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Dale Jr. had to fire his uncle, Tony Eury Sr., as competition director for JR Motorsports. Later in the week his cousin, Tony Eury Jr., left JR's Nationwide Series team. Regardless, he's still in the Chase for the Sprint Cup heading into Dover this weekend. Earlier this week, we got Dale Jr. on the phone to talk about the drama and how badly he wants to win Rick Hendrick a Sprint Cup Championship.
How do you think you did in New Hampshire?
It was a little bit of a frustrating race for us. We didn't get the finish that we expected. It wasn't a disaster, but we just felt like we could run in the top five. It's a track I like to race on, too. I went it pretty confident about it, but I struggled with the car all day long. All weekend long, really. We ended up salvaging a finish that keeps us in the thick of the battle. We still have a lot of racing left and a shot of this thing.
What's your strategy for Dover this weekend? What's your outlook there?
Dover was a track we ran well at earlier in the year. We finished in top 5. We've learned a whole lot more about our cars to to gain more speed since that time. We feel like we can go in and be even more competitive and have a strong run. I think we can shoot for a top 5 and maybe even win the race.
Let's talk about some of the family shakeups at JR Motorsports.It's been untimely for sure to happen at this time of year when we're in the chase for the championship. But once I'm at the racetrack and I'm working on my Cup car and trying to improve it, it demands a lot of attention. It's pretty easy to take your mind off the other things going on in your life. It hasn't been a big distraction so far.
Do you think winning the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway -- your first big race in four years -- took some pressure off?
It was nice to get the win so we didn't have to talk about the winless streak any more. The team was hungry for a win and we felt like we were really close. We've had an awesome year and always felt like we were really close, but it was nice to finally get one done.
You've had a little bit or turmoil with your Nationwide team. How are you feeling with it going into the end of the year?We've made a lot of changes, especially in the last few weeks, to try to improve our team to prepare our team for what we're going to do in the next year. We're going to make a lot more changes moving forward after this and hopefully bring in some new sponsorship partners. We're going to put together two teams next year that will hopefully be really strong. We'll have some adjustments to build the program back up. We've kind of dismantled it to rebuild it back stronger and fix some of our shortcomings.