KANSAS CITY, Kan. –As far as driver status goes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. recognizes that he might not have the longevity or accomplishments at Hendrick Motorsports of four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon or five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, but Earnhardt doesn’t believe his teammates are better drivers than he is.
“There is a bit of a pecking order, and it really comes down to what you’ve done lately,” Earnhardt said Friday at Kansas. “I think that Jimmie and Jeff will always carry a certain role in that company that I will probably never achieve, just due to them being there that long and having that trust built up with Rick (Hendrick) and all the employees there — and their accomplishments, obviously.”
Asked whether he thought Johnson was a better driver, however, Earnhardt was emphatic in his response.
“No, he’s a hell of a race car driver, but I feel like I’m the best,” Earnhardt said. “I think that’s the way you have to feel. I feel like I’m smarter than everybody, and I can drive better than everybody, and I know a lot of people ain’t going to agree with that, but I feel pretty strong about it.”
Michael Waltrip Racing got positive news from sponsor 5-hour Energy, which picked up 12 additional Cup races with driver Clint Bowyer to go with the 25 announced last year. Bowyer, who will be sponsored by Aaron’s May 6 at Talladega in his only event not sold to 5-hour Energy, is 10th in the series standings through seven races. . .
In Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas, Aric Almirola’s No. 43 Ford will be dressed appropriately. The car will feature a throwback STP paint scheme similar to the one seven-time champion and team owner Richard Petty made famous. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the company’s association with Petty, STP is donating $43,000 to Victory Junction Gang Camp, founded in memory of Petty’s grandson, Adam Petty, who lost his life at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in May 2000. . .
On May 22 at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) U.S.A. in Salisbury, N.C., reporters will get their first look at the new Camry to be raced by Toyota teams in 2013. Ford and Dodge already have revealed their 2013 Fusion and Charger, respectively. Chevrolet has yet to schedule the unveiling of its 2013 race car.