Dale Earnhardt Jr.: At the end of a plate race, greed is good . . . sometimes

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (L), driver of the #88 National Guard-AnAmericanSalute/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson (R), driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, talk during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The ideal situation at the end of restrictor-plate race, says Dale Earnhardt Jr., is to pair up with a teammate you can trust.

Barring that, you’ve got to be downright piggish, says the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“I’ve won races working with a teammate before,” said Earnhardt, who will try to win his second Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night. “I’ve won races being the most selfish guy out there. It just depends on what you need to do and what is happening and who is around.

“If you’ve got an opportunity at the end of the race . . . if your teammate happens to be the guy that you’re working with, that’s the best-case scenario, because we have seen that work a lot of times here.”

Sometimes, however, a teammate simply isn’t available.

“If (hooking up with a teammate) doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, or that’s not an option or not going to materialize for you, you need to really be as selfish as you can be,” Earnhardt said Thursday before NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Daytona International Speedway. “Just be the biggest jerk you can be out there, and that’s the way it’s got to be if you want to get to Victory Lane.

“You ain’t going to do it by expecting favors. You just have to go out there and take it from people, and if you can get to Victory Lane, you don’t have to worry about having somebody tell you that was stupid. It is tough. That’s not my mentality.

“I don’t think of myself as a jerk, but you kind of have to be one if you want to win at the end of these races — more times than not.”

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