Earnhart Jr. credits successes of 2011 to crew chief Steve Letarte

Dale Earnhardt Jr. attends the NASCAR media tour.
Credit: Hendrick Motorsports 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss his thoughts on 2011 and his hopes for 2012. In front of television cameras and a plethora of voice recorders, Earnhardt Jr. went into detail about how his relationship with crew chief Steve Letarte changed his outlook on racing and the way he handles himself at the track. 

According to Jr., Letarte asks more from him than anyone ever has in regards to doing things outside the cockpit. In the past he was expect to show up and race and that was all. Letarte isn't that kind of crew chief. He expects his drivers to be actively engaged in the process of setting up the car and has him "filling out forms and stuff about the races. Giving him information about the car after the races, setting in on discussions about the car in the garage area ... I'd never done any of those things in the 10 years I'd raced before." 

With Letarte in his corner, Earnhardt Jr. believes he can go far and live up to his potential. Letarte cracks the whip, so to speak, and the combination worked well in 2011. Although he's still on a 129-race winless streak, the team is headed in the right direction and that's something that Earnhardt has not felt in a long time. 

Earnhardt Jr. also discussed at length his Nationwide Series team and driver Danica Patrick saying, "She's assertive and determined and that's exciting, especially coming from a woman in this sport it's rare. It's very rare." 

He openly admits his enthusiasm for Patrick is probably selfish, but can you really blame him for that? No matter where she goes or what she does Patrick is the center of attention. Not only is she a sponsor's dream in terms of marketability, but she has a "dynamic edge to her personality." That's something a team like his and the sport of NASCAR need.
Earnhart Jr. credits successes of 2011 to crew chief Steve Letarte Earnhart Jr. credits successes of 2011 to crew chief Steve Letarte Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 Rating: 5