Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes a “no-name” car will be the answer

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on track during the shortened practice session at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, June 30, 2016 (Photo: Greg Engle)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on track during the shortened practice session at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, June 30, 2016 (Photo: Greg Engle)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on track during the shortened practice session at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, June 30, 2016 (Photo: Greg Engle)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – What’s in a name?

Henceforth, the chassis Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives won’t have one—not since the No. 88 Chevrolet named “Amelia” spun and wrecked at Talladega and was consigned to the chassis “graveyard” on Earnhardt’s property in North Carolina.

“No, we’re not going to be naming cars anymore,” Earnhardt said Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “I knew, as soon as we did that, it sort of took off and put a lot of pressure on that car and the team. These cars just don’t stick around long enough to get names. You used to race cars for years and years, and they would show a personality.

“These days, you only keep a car for maybe a year before it’s unrecognizable or it’s cut out of the herd. We had so much success with that car last year that we ran it this year, and we probably shouldn’t have. There are newer ideas and theories and better ways to do things that car didn’t have. But we assumed, hey, it was doing so well, why wouldn’t it keep going?”

That question answered itself at both restrictor-plate tracks this year. Amelia spun in the Daytona 500 but survived. Then the second of two wrecks in the May race at Talladega forced her into retirement.

With a new chassis ready for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at the 2.5-mile track, Earnhardt expects the balance issues that caused the spins in the first two plate races of the season to be solved.

“We spun out at Daytona and Talladega, and we have a pretty good understanding of why our car has been unstable,” Earnhardt said. “We brought a new car that’s hopefully going to be a much better race car for us. We went back to our set-ups that seemed to work so well.

“So, the guys are always working and trying to find speed, and that really made the car unstable, so we dialed some of that back out and went back to our older set-ups and hopefully that’s going to be all we need to be competitive and be able to get up there and be aggressive.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.