Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not a fan of the new tandem style of racing at restrictor plate tracks, saying he prefers racing in big packs like it used to be the case at Daytona and Talladega.
NASCAR's most popular driver has once again criticized the two-car drafts that became the norm following the season opener at Daytona, where thanks to the new smoother surface at the 2.5-mile track – now similar to Talladega's – cars raced in pairs as drivers found it to be the best way to reach higher speeds and be able to race to the front of the field.
Earnhardt suffered an accident during practice for the Daytona 500 while practicing the technique, having to switch to his back-up car for the main event, thus losing the pole position that he earned during qualifying. Since then, he has been a detractor of running in tandem, although he inevitably has had to in order to contend.
"Were we doing this for the last 15 years?" said Earnhardt. "We weren't doing it when it was brand-new; the asphalt. It was like that. I don't know man. I'm not an engineer. Might take a physics major to figure it out.
"You remember when we would go out to practice and even the few fans that are here on a Thursday or a Friday, that's pretty interesting to them to watch guys out there practicing. How interesting was practice yesterday?
"It just doesn't... I mean everybody thinks it is cool now 'cause it's new and it's neat and, 'Wow, what is going on?' Everybody is getting a big kick out of it. Over the long haul, man, it's not the best. It is not as good as 40 dudes in one pack racin' like hell tryin' to get to the front. It is nowhere near as good as that. Give me that any day over this.
"Over the long haul people will realize it and go, 'Yeah, OK.' The novelty of this...once news of all this wears off how interesting this is and how unique it is wears off, I think that people will start to see."
While voicing his dislike for the technique, Earnhardt refused to point the finger at NASCAR for allowing the style to develop, despite some traditional fans finding it strange as well.
"I think NASCAR is doing what they think is right and I don't want to say what they are doing is wrong, 'cause I don't know," said Earnhardt. "I don't know whether I'm right or wrong. I just know what I prefer; what I like. It's my opinion; I'm entitled to one. Everybody's got one. I don't know what's right or wrong."
Earnhardt starts Sunday's race from the second row of the grid behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.