Michigan improvement sets up new hope at Bristol

Updated: August 26, 2009, 12:32 PM ET

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Dale Earnhardt Jr. put on some good duds to meet the president at the White House on Wednesday.

A good day at Michigan, but will it help buildup to Bristol?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on what his third-place finish at Michigan does for his confidence: "Well, I don't want to get too excited. You want to be up front every week like this. You want to be there the whole race. You don't want to just come up there through the last 50 laps and surprise everybody.

"You know, we're getting better as a team. It's just really, really hard to be patient, be mindful and respectful of everybody, you know, just hold your tongue every once in a while.

"But we're working really hard. Never worked so hard to run third. I've won races working a whole lot easier than this. But, you know, it's competitive with this car, and there's not really a real edge for anyone right now. You just got to work hard all the time. My team deserves a lot of credit. They worked hard all weekend, got a good car, made a lot of changes, we leaned on our teammates a lot in setup knowledge. We made some good changes in the race. Just some really smart stuff we had [crew chief] Lance [McGrew] and the guys doing all weekend."

Earnhardt on Saturday's Bristol night race: "We have been working hard as a team, and I want to carry the momentum from Michigan. This is about as exciting as it gets for fans -- night racing at Bristol. I enjoy short-track racing -- it's what I grew up doing. Hopefully we can have another good run."

Lance McGrew, interim crew chief, on Bristol: "For me, in general, the hardest thing about Bristol is just the noise. It is so difficult. The laps happen so fast you can't ever talk to the driver because you can't talk to him while he is in the corner there, and he is always in the corner. So it is so loud, and everything happens so fast that it's just very difficult to get good information to the driver and get good information back from the driver to make changes on the car. It's just impossible.

And even under caution you are running around there in such a short amount of time. It's difficult to get a plan before you even come to pit road, so communication there is very, very difficult."

Compiled from Team Chevy and Hendrick Motorsports news release.


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Junior said it

"I've been trying to work really hard to be the same person at the end of the race that I am at the start of the race mentally. That really helps [the team] stay focused on their job and working on the car instead of having to control me and my problems. They can think about what they're looking at on them laptops, figuring this, that and the other, everything them engineers are telling them in their ear."

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By the numbers

22: In the Sprint Cup standings
350: The number of Cup starts made
11.8: Average finishing position at Bristol
9,365: Laps run at Bristol
743: Laps led at Bristol