NASCAR changes heading into Martinsville ‘concerns’ Dale Earnhardt Jr.

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series gets back to racing this weekend at Martinsville Speedway and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is worried about some recent changes made by the sanctioning body.

Earnhardt, 41, has recorded 13 top-five finishes at Martinsville, including a win in 2014 and addressed his apprehensiveness over NASCAR’s recent gearing adjustment for the .526-mile short track oval.

“I think NASCAR took a little bit of the gear away at Martinsville,” said Earnhardt. “That concerns me a little bit because you don’t have the throttle response and the gear to drive out of the corner and to gain on a guy that can’t get in the gas, but it also doesn’t allow the engine to do any of the engine braking on deceleration. When you have less engine braking going into the corner, you have to use more physical braking to slow the car down. Anyhow, we’ll just have to put more cooling on the brakes and the beads and all that, and try to remember when we’re in traffic not to really use the brakes all that much or get too aggressive. When you’re running alone or you have some room between you and the guys behind you, you need to start lifting around the flag stand and brake very lightly to take care of your brakes.

All things considered, Earnhardt believes the new and heavily-welcomed low downforce package won’t play a factor at NASCAR’s shortest track.

“I don’t think the low downforce package is going to be a big difference at Martinsville – maybe we’ll be a little looser into the corner, but we’re always kind of loose on entry there,” said Earnhardt. I don’t want us to use more brakes, so we’ll maybe have to lift a little earlier, but it won’t be a huge difference in drive off because you’re not really going fast enough to get the aero as part of the handling equation. I’m looking forward to getting back to racing. Hope everyone had a great Easter break.”

Image: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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