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Dale Earnhardt Jr. opens up and says things need to change

   A year after NASCAR's 'shut up and drive' edict to drivers, in the wake of complaints about the sport's new race car, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Friday renews his case the new car needs help, and says everyone in the sports needs to open their eyes to the issues (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


    BROOKLYN, Mich.

    The Friday NASCAR Notebook:

   -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't had much to talk about lately, but Friday he opened up, ripping the car-of-tomorrow and saying  "95 percent of the race wasn't worth the price of a ticket" until NASCAR went to double-file restarts in June.
   And Earnhardt said things need to change "immediately."
   "Before the double-file restarts, I thought the racing was rather poor," Earnhardt said. "It seemed to me the races were very poor, and we depended on a late caution to save the day – to let somebody race side-by-side the last 10 laps of the day.
   "That was very frustrating."
   Earnhardt, who won here in June 2008, his last tour win, said the double-file restarts are great: "But they only give us the opportunity to be exciting for only a moment.  We have to figure out how to maintain that through the entire race.
   "I remember how the old car drove; I liked how they drove. And I like how this new car is safe – but I want to be able to race it, like we raced the other car.
   "I'm not trying to start a crusade, or cause any problems. But all us drivers work with NASCAR on this. I just want to remind everyone of that ultimate goal for us is to have better racing.
   "We're not really where we want to be as a sport. We need to do things to excite corporate America. Excite the fans. We need to be pro-active. Immediately.
   "We need to open our eyes a little bit, everyone. The media could address it stronger. The drivers could be more vocal about it. NASCAR could probably be a little more urgent in improving our product – for great exciting racing, that the fans can enjoy, that the drivers can enjoy.
   "I feel, especially right now, we need to turn over every stone…and that includes this COT – and how this car evolves. I've just had a sense of urgency over the past few weeks of needing to do better (with the COT).
   "The car is really safe, and there are great characteristics about it. But we need to look at opportunities, at what we can do to make it even better."
   Earnhardt himself has had little success with the new car. His win in 2008 here was on gas mileage. But this season he has had his moments.
   However he has been criticized for not living up to his reputation.
   "It's tough handling criticism, no matter what direction it comes from. Everyone finds that a challenge," Earnhardt said.
   "But I don't find it to be a real big problem, because most of the criticism we've gotten this year has been deserved. And the media, in bringing facts, was making sense.
   "As a member of this team, you'd rather not be in the news for those reasons. You'd just like to get back to the track and turn it around.
   "Criticism can be a way to motivate yourself. And that's what I try to do. And not let it bring you further down."
   At the Glen the right-rear brake line rubbed and broke, and that put Earnhardt into the wall. "We've routed that line that way all year, so it was just a freak deal," Earnhardt said. "Just poor luck. Just seems to be the way things have been going for us.
   "But we're getting close to turning it around, me and Lance.
   "We had a pretty good car at Indy, and some other runs that were decent. But we're still not seeing the stuff we need to see to know we're turning it around.  But I have confidence in Lance, and he has confidence in me. We're all trying to bond. We want to be able to help our teammates in the chase, and be an asset to the company in their quest for the championship. That's what's most important for us, to feel we have a hand in it."
    -- Kasey Kahne in a Toyota photo shoot? That's the report, but officials at Richard Petty Motorsports said they had 'no comment,' except to say the four-car operation is still shopping for a manufacturer for next season. Petty has had Dodges the past several years, but business partner George Gillett made overtures to Toyota last fall. Dodge executives continue to pooh-pooh the Petty-Toyota talk, which has been going on for several months now.
    Kahne spent most of Friday's first practice session for Sunday's Michigan 400 in the garage while his crew changed engines.



Waaaaaa. Don't worry, NASCAR

Waaaaaa. Don't worry, NASCAR will change it so the top 25 drivers get in the stupid chase. And then the top 30 and then..........
Hey look on the bright side; if there's a wreck that takes out the top 20 drivers- you MIGHT have a chance.

Actually, I like Ben Blake's

Actually, I like Ben Blake's idea for the chase: let's expand the chase field....to 43 drivers....and let's expand the sprint-to-the-chase...to 36 races. What do you think?

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