Earnhardt Jr. can't win if he can't control his temper
The message from car owner Rick Hendrick is clear, but will Dale Earnhardt Jr. listen?
|Earnhardt Jr. lets his emotions get the best of him|
Hendrick said Earnhardt must be more focused during races - a problem that has dogged Earnhardt throughout his career - to win the Sprint Cup crown. Hendrick's assessment came Sunday after he had to calm his driver on the radio for the second consecutive week.
That Hendrick's declaration came just one race into the title Chase is telling. The whining must stop now, Hendrick seems to be telling his driver.
Volcanic eruptions by Earnhardt are common on his radio. Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. often takes the brunt of the abuse, but there's a deeper problem than how Earnhardt talks to his cousin.
"If you let things get to you, you will not win the Chase," Hendrick said after Earnhardt finished fifth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to move into a tie for fourth in points.
"You can't choke - and that is what I am trying to get them not to do," Hendrick said. "I think they can be better. I know Tony will be better and can help (Earnhardt) more if he's calmer when he's giving him information. To my knowledge, I have never had (a driver) that gave us good information when he was on the chip."
Earnhardt's emotions are a symptom to another issue: his history of running well early in a race and fading late, costing him points and potential victories.
That problem surfaced again Sunday and Earnhardt's frustration turned to rage.
Earnhardt led 79 of 300 laps, most in the race's first half. His car, which had been dominant, began to mishandle after a pit stop, although the only change the crew made was to add fuel and four new tires. Earnhardt lost ground on the leaders. After a later pit stop, he expressed his anger, leading Hendrick to begin his on-air therapy session.
"You've got a great car," Hendrick radioed Earnhardt, who was sixth after exiting the pits on lap 215. "Now take it easy and tighten up those belts."
Said Earnhardt: "I feel like somebody is conspiring against me. I want some answers now!"
"You're going to be good," Hendrick said. "Car is good. You were killing everybody. Go back to it again."
"I hope we didn't tighten it up too much," Earnhardt replied, his voice firm. "I need to find a motor sport that runs half the race and I'll be the champion."
"You can do this," Hendrick said. "You gotta talk to them about what the car is doing and we can make the right adjustments."
"I'm ready," an angry Earnhardt said. Using a few more expletives, Earnhardt said if the car "doesn't roll the center, I'm going to cut it in half." pilotlonline.com