If Dale Earnhardt Jr plans to start the NASCAR Chase off with a win he will have to do it from the back of the field. After qualifying fourth for Sundays race, Earnhardts crew chief Steve Letarte opted to change the engine of the No. 88 Chevrolet.
“I don’t think we are super concerned,” Letarte said. “We had a great car in practice and qualified really well, so we showed we have good speed. Fortunately, this is a racetrack that there are multiple pit strategies and it’s not a really simple straightforward pit strategy to call a race”
Winning from the back is not unheard of at Chicagoland. Kevin Harvick won from 32nd in 2002 while Tony Stewart started 26th and won last season.
Prior to the engine change Earnhardt touted his car as capable of a top-five.
“It has good speed,” he said. “We liked the changes that we were making, liked the way the car was responding.”
In 11 starts at the 1.5 mile track in Joliet, Illinois, Earnhardt has a win (2005) and three top ten finishes.