Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dale Jr. Meets the Media at Daytona Testing (5)

Interview Part 5 of 8

Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed the departure of Steve Letarte as crew chief in 2015, his outlook for the 2014 season and other topics.

NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Testing at Daytona
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Testing at Daytona

Question: You touched upon the cheerleading thing about Steve and how he made you a better driver. Could you expand on just why specifically you connected with him so well over the last few years?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Yeah, I think the reason why we got off on such a we really took off at the very beginning of our working relationship because he was always positive. I'd just been I'd beat myself up and went through such a struggle on the racetrack and professionally I was having a hard time up until that point in the couple years before I worked with Steve. And things just weren't good at all. I couldn't get any traction, couldn't get anything going in the right direction, and I didn't know why, why I didn't run well. I couldn't see a problem with the team I was with. I couldn't see a problem with the people I was working with. I couldn't see a reason why we were so unsuccessful.

When I went to work with Steve he was just always real positive, we're going to get this figured out, we're going to get it better, and when we didn't run well, he didn't ask me why we didn't run well, he said we're going to figure out why the car didn't perform, we're going to give you a better car and we're going to improve the body or build a new chassis and we're going to do things that can help you drive and race like you want to.

And then when we would go and physically do those things, build a new car or cut the side off of a car and take it back to the racetrack, we improved. It took a lot of pressure off of me as I wasn't the reason for all the failures and all the struggles in the past. When we would not run well, he could point to an area where we could improve, and we would improve that area and the performance would pick up.

It was a lot of fun, take the pressure off of me and just be able to go to work and see things change and get better. That was just a great experience.

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