Earnhardt Jr. confident engine woes resolved

Earnhardt Jr. confident engine woes resolved

Earnhardt Jr. confident engine woes resolved
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. says his team has figured out the source of its engine woes and is optimistic heading into Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Both Earnhardt Jr. and his Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Martin Truex Jr. suffered engine failures at California Speedway Feb. 25. Since then, the DEI engineers have worked to discover exactly what the source of the problem was.

"We found out what caused the engine failure at California, and our guys have been busting their [butts] to make sure we don't have that problem again," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The most positive thing we took from California is that we had a car that was really fast. We had a flat tire, but then we came back out and passed Matt Kenseth even with a loose wheel that caused a bad vibration.

"That shows we had a really good setup, and we're taking that same chassis to Las Vegas."

Earnhardt Jr. settled for 40th in that race and his second DNF of the season.

He heads to Las Vegas 41st in the standings after also crashing in the Daytona 500.

Still, he's not too worried about the sluggish start to the year.

"We're not happy about it, but we're keeping our heads up," he said. "We've had some rough starts before and came back strong. We were 38th in the points after two races in 2003, and we came back to finish third. It seems like we always get better as the year goes on."

And sometimes, after slipping midseason, the team surges once more. That's what happened for Earnhardt Jr. in 2006.

"Don't forget, we had back-to-back last-place finishes in the middle of the summer last year and dropped out of the top 10 in points, but we fought back into the Chase when we needed to," he said. "As a team, you can't let it be a distraction. ... We have to go out and run every lap as hard as possible and not worry about it.

"This team has performed well when the pressure is on, and I expect nothing less this week."

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