Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t betting on a fairy tale ending

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 08: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AXALTA Chevrolet, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. – From the standpoint of a large portion of the NASCAR fan base, no outcome at Richmond Raceway could be better than Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 and qualifying for the playoff in his last season of full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing.

But Earnhardt himself doesn’t consider that a likely prospect.

“Just right now, if we had to line-up and race, I think we’ve got about a sixth to 12th place car,” Earnhardt said after Friday’s final practice at the .75-mile short track. “We could run a fast lap that was a top-10 lap in the first two practices in race trim. After about 30 laps, we were behind the Penske guys on speed and we were behind all the Toyotas on speed by a tenth (of a second) or two.

“We tried some things in the second practice that won’t get us front-end speed, but we did some things that I think will help our car on the long run. So we’ve got to just hope that’s going to work for us in the race. But, these races aren’t typically long-run races anymore, especially with the stages and late cautions and stuff.”

The bottom line? Though anything can happen in a NASCAR race, a miracle might not be in the cards for Earnhardt on Saturday night.

“I haven’t thought about any fairy tales,” Earnhardt said.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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.