By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
It’s no secret that Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes his car for this weekend’s Daytona 500. Earnhardt raced this very car in all four restrictor plate events last season, and with it he recorded two wins, and an average finish of 1.8.
Earnhardt’s great luck with the car that he has named ‘Amelia’ continued in Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel qualifying race.
“I was so nervous today about tearing the car up because I know how good it is versus what we have,” Earnhardt said. “What we have is a capable car in the trailer, but this thing is special. So I’m real excited.”
Earnhardt dominated the event, leading 43 of 60 laps. Earnhardt was running third at lap 54, when he decided to pull out and try to take the lead from Denny Hamlin. Earnhardt pulled off a dramatic textbook Daytona slingshot.
“That was crazy. You know, had to just go where they were going. Everybody knows how important getting the lead is at this race,” Earnhardt said after the race.
From there Earnhardt would cruise to victory.
Earnhardt looks and sounds confident, and why wouldn’t he be? His racecar seems unstoppable. Earnhardt, who is always a favorite when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona, has now morphed into the run-away favorite.
“The car is awesome,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t really get too confident, I don’t want to get overly confident in what I’m doing. But the car really does everything I ask it to do.”
Winning is always the goal, but in making such an impressive move to win his Duel race, did Earnhardt give away all of his secrets of how to win with the current plate racing package?
“I was glad to hold them off. But now I’m not too worried about giving away too many secrets,” Earnhardt explained.
Expect Earnhardt to have a trick (or two) still stashed up his sleeve for Sunday. This time next week, Earnhardt could very well be making all of the late night talk show rounds as a three-time Daytona 500 champion. I know I won’t be betting against him, as long as he has that car to drive.
Image: Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing