Earnhardt Jr. unsure changes needed
This story has been corrected. Read below
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. says it's not assured that he gets a new crew chief before the 2011 season and that no one person is responsible for this season's failures.
"I'm not certain what's going to happen," NASCAR's most popular driver said after Friday's qualifying for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Earnhardt is 19th in points, having missed the Chase for the second straight year and third time in the past four seasons. He has only three top-5s and eight top-10s a year after recording a career-worst two top-5s and five top-10s.
Earnhardt has only one win since Lance McGrew was named his crew chief in the middle of 2009. He is mired in a career-worst 92-race losing streak.
But Earnhardt believes this season has been better than last year's which he called the worst of his career before this race. He's just not sure what has to happen to turn things around.
"It's pretty obvious we aren't very good and we need to do some things to get better,'' Earnhardt said. "It's obvious that's where we are. I don't think it needs to be over-analyzed or anything like that.''
But Earnhardt has self-analyzed himself recently. He said there was a time he wasn't sure he could handle the disappointment anymore and would crumble mentally.
"The last couple of years have been hard,'' Earnhardt said. "We've been bad. We ain't run good. I ain't run good. It's been real hard to deal with ... I still feel some confidence in what I can do. I guess I'm just glad that's still there, you know?''
Earnhardt said the first half of this season was much better than the second as he had three top-10s in the first eight races. Eighteen races in he was 11th in points and believing he had a shot at the Chase.
But the second half has produced only two top-10s and 11 finishes of 20th or worse.
"Somebody was bringing up some of the things we did at the start of the season,'' said Earnhardt, who finished second in the Daytona 500 and won the pole at the Atlanta spring race. "It seems like such a lifetime ago when we sat on the pole and we ran pretty good at a couple of places.
"I've had some fun. We did get the cars better and we were more competitive this year even though it's still not reasonable. We were better than we were last year.''
Earnhardt said he asked team owner Rick Hendrick to let the season end before making a decision on any potential changes to his team. Even then, Earnhardt doesn't know how much input he'll personally give.
"I've dove into those deals headfirst in the past,'' Earnhardt said. "I'm not doing it this time. I obviously haven't had too good of an effect on the last couple of changes I've made. Maybe I'm not the person to be in there making those kinds of decisions.
"I don't want to have any effect on whatever that decision is. I've enjoyed working with Lance. I've enjoyed working with this team. We try really hard. They try really hard. No one person has failed this season.''
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE END OF THE ROAD
The 2010 Sprint Cup season came down to three drivers -- Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick -- with a shot at the championship trophy. Only one was left standing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Columns• Hinton: Six in a row for Johnson?
• Blount: Hamlin falls short
• Newton: Harvick serves notice
• Hinton: Sunday should be fun
• Newton: Chase for Cup too close to call
• Blount: Sunset dreams at Homestead
• Newton: Are Chase changes needed?
• Hinton: Bowyer still left wondering
• Hinton: Johnson's back to the wall
• Blount: Harvick channeling his inner-E
• Newton: Hamlin one cool customer
• Blount: Is Hamlin jinxed?
• Newton: Hamlin's crew chief ready to roll
• Newton: Chase drama trumps Edwards' win
Racing Live!• Homestead on ESPN.com: Rewind
Blogs• Smith: A candid conversation with Hamlin
• McGee: Trash talk is good
• Willis: Is it Kevin Harvick's turn?
• Newton: Owners kick-start Homestead week
• Willis: Does Hamlin have confidence?
Practice, qualifying and news• JJ qualifies ahead of Harvick, Hamlin
• Earnhardt unsure crew chief change needed
• Denny Hamlin car at fuel disadvantage
• NASCAR open to Chase changes
More weekend coverage• Edwards wins; Johnson rolls to title | Results
• Kyle Busch takes Nationwide finale
• Kyle Busch rolls in Trucks race
• Danica's Double 2010: End of the line
NASCAR Video• Homestead highlights
• Jimmie Johnson celebrates again
• Hard to swallow for Denny Hamlin
• Sprint Cup qualifying
• Have at it boys remix
• Denny Hamlin's long road back
• Hamlin's crew chief Ford ready
• NASCAR Now: Is the pressure off JJ?
• SportsCenter: Tricky for contenders
• The Final Chase: Kevin Harvick
• The Final Chase: Denny Hamlin
• The Final Chase: Jimmie Johnson
• EA Track Preview: Homestead
• Tale of the tape
Podcasts• Jayski: Ford 400 preview
• Rusty Wallace on Mike & Mike
• Denny Hamlin with Doug Gottlieb
• Jimmie Johnson on Mike & Mike
• Jayski: Jimmie, Denny and Kevin
• Jayski: Around the sport
Chats and wraps• Sunday: Garrow on fantasy, 9:30 a.m. ET
• Thursday: Ed Hinton wrap
• Wednesday: Terry Blount wrap
• Tuesday: David Newton wrap
• Monday: Ryan McGee wrap