Auto racing notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. still embarrassed over Talladega finish
It had been 31 years since a driver won both Daytona races in the same season when Jimmie Johnson pulled off the Sprint Cup Series sweep. A year later, his teammate wants to complete the feat.
But for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the Coke Zero 400, he can’t race the way he did at Talladega Superspeedway in May.
The Daytona 500 winner went to Talladega thinking he’d win another restrictor plate race, but instead finished 26th in a performance that still haunted him Thursday when he showed up at Daytona International Speedway.
“It’s embarrassing man, I hate to talk about it,” Earnhardt said before the first of two practice sessions for Saturday night’s race in Daytona Beach, Florida.
“The way we ran and what I chose to do at the end of the race was just uncharacteristic really of anybody that is in the field trying to compete. I just got really frustrated with the way things were working out for us and lost sight of the overall big picture and what you’re out there trying to do and who all is out there depending on you to do what you need to do. I learned some lessons.”
He’ll attempt to apply the lessons in the 400-miler Saturday night, where he’ll most likely race hard and try to lead much the same way he did when he won the season-opening Daytona 500.
“I think I got real selfish at Talladega. I forgot that there’s a team behind me depending on me and a lot of fans there to see us race and show up to spend their hard earned money. Definitely was a difficult thing to go through.”
Earnhardt has eight wins at plate tracks – four behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the active-driver lead.
The future of IndyCar at Pocono Raceway is in jeopardy because of a dramatic attendance drop expected for Sunday’s race.
IndyCar returned to Pocono last year after a 24-year absence in the first race of a three-year contract. Track CEO and president Brandon Igdalsky said this week he planned to speak with IndyCar CEO Mark Miles and other series executives in anticipation of Sunday’s race about possibly dumping the final year.
Igdalsky refused to divulge numbers, but said ticket sales “were kind of scary” compared to last year. While the track does not disclose attendance figures, about 30,000 to 35,000 fans were estimated at last year’s race.
He wouldn’t guarantee IndyCar will race at Pocono in 2015.
Lewis Hamilton wants an emotional home crowd to back him all the way this weekend as he seeks to claim his second win at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, England, and reboot his bid for the Formula One championship.
Hamilton, who secured victory at Silverstone in 2008 on his way to taking the title, says there is no greater satisfaction for a racing driver than winning his home event.
“I really want to win this race,” he said. “It is a great feeling if you can do that, and the British fans are special, so I want to win for them, too.”
Hamilton trails his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 29 points after eight races in the 19-race championship.