Earnhardt, McMurray among those searching for speed on Saturday

By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor

Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t mince words after struggling to a 20th-place starting position for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We struggled out there in qualifying. The car’s been tight all day and lacked front grip, and we just never got it sorted out,” Earnhardt said after qualifying. “We’ve got two practices tomorrow to try and dial it in.”

In addition to qualifying 20th, Earnhardt was also 15th-quickest in the opening practice session of the week on Friday.

Earnhardt has seven top-10 finishes at Las Vegas in his last eight starts, but if he wants to extend that streak he and crew chief Greg Ives will have to find something in practice on Saturday.

Another driver who had an abysmal qualifying run is Jamie McMurray who put down the 29th fastest lap in Friday night’s qualifying session.

McMurray and his team have made sweeping changes left and right since the first practice session on Friday, but are just lacking overall speed.

“Honestly, we have been kind of a 30th-place car since we unloaded here. All day yesterday we were like 30th on the board. We went to qualifying trim this morning and I think we were 28th or 30th this morning and we qualified right there,” McMurray said. “I ended up getting into the wall a little bit just trying to get a little bit more, but I hit the wall and still ran the same speed. It’s kind of been the story of our weekend. We just can’t find any speed in the car.”

McMurray would continue by saying that his car is frustrating because it’s tight and loose at the same time.

“The front doesn’t turn very good, but the back still doesn’t feel very stable,” McMurray explained. “We freed it up a bunch for our second run and then still just didn’t turn good enough.”

McMurray has finished 15th-or-better in his last four races in Las Vegas. If that streak is going to continue, just like Earnhardt, he will have to find some speed in Saturday’s practice sessions.

Image: Waylon Oakes / Drafting the Circuits

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Toby Christie is a contributing writer for Motorsports Tribune. He has been watching stock cars turn left since 1993, and has covered NASCAR as an accredited media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, sub-par guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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