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Tony Eury Jr. has a lot of things to worry him this weekend...including his driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.


Some days it's just not easy being Dale. Just ask Junior (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   FONTANA, Calif.
   A lot of NASCAR men would just as soon forget last weekend at Daytona, and perhaps none more so than Dale Earnhardt Jr.
   Chalk it all up to just a bad Sunday at Black Rock.
   Of course some of those guys Earnhardt took out in Sunday's 500 might not be quite so eager to forgive and forget. After all that is the biggest race of the season.
   Earnhardt, this weekend and next, may have to use some points saved up as the sport's most popular driver.
  "We were good all week at Daytona, but we didn't get the results we wanted," Earnhardt says.
   "But I'm ready to move on, and we're looking forward to seeing what we can do in California."
   However this place hasn't been a strong suit for Earnhardt…perhaps dating back to that weekend a few years back where he plowed into the wall so hard that he was admittedly dizzy for several weeks afterward.
    "We haven't had much luck over the past several years at California," Earnhardt says. "Because of the late-afternoon start and the night-time finish, the track changes. So you've got to have that adjustment in your setup."
   Nevertheless, it's no excuses now for Earnhardt here, and he realizes that, because new teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have down quite well at this track over the years. In fact Johnson won last summer's stop here, and he and Gordon finished second and third to Carl Edwards in the spring.
    While Earnhardt concedes the pressure on him at Daytona was considerable, the man facing the pressure here is crew chief Tony Eury Jr., who has to pump his driver back up.
    "We had lot of stuff happen down there in Daytona, but I'm pretty excited with how the car ran," Eury says.
    "And the team had some pretty good pit stops."
    Well, the team did, but Earnhardt himself twice missed his pit box, creating the situation that led to his eventual disaster.
   Wouldn't be surprised if Earnhardt has been doing some pit stop practice this week.
   Eury says a major problem this weekend, as usual at this track, is lack of grip: "One of the biggest challenges is the track is really flat and has no grip.
   "So you have to keep a really good aero-platform, and keep the car from getting too free off the corners. That has typically been our problem -- our car will be good after 20 laps, but will be too free at the start.
    "And then you start the race in the day and end at night, so you've got those conditions changing on you on top of that."
   But the biggest thing for Eury to stay on top of here this weekend may be his driver.

Wrangling Dale Earnhardt Jr. ain't easy. Just ask Tony Eury Jr. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



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