Dale Earnhardt Jr. Calls Season An 'Improvement,' But Not Satisfied Without Race Wins

After getting out of his car at Kansas Speedway last weekend, Dale Earnhardt Jr. told reporters he was more worried about his fantasy football team than the NASCAR point standings.

It seemed he was perhaps making a statement about the Chase and acknowledging he was basically out of it. But on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. said he "wasn't expecting everybody to read between the lines too much there."

"We're quite a ways behind and you sorta, kinda adjust your goals," he said. "When we got as far behind as we are, I think just winning a race became the priority."

If that sounds as if he's resigned to not win the championship this season, hang on a second. He added this: "If you win races, the points just take care of themselves."

Still, Earnhardt Jr. said his team still plans to stay the course and not try anything too crazy to get a win. It's important to him to "put forth the best account you can for yourself in the points."

"You don't want to finish outside the top 10 (in the standings) over some silly gamble," he said. "You make reasonable choices just like when we were here in Charlotte last time. We made a choice to stretch the fuel and we felt like that was a reasonable opportunity for us and the repercussions were not that severe."

It comes down to taking more gambles, Earnhardt Jr. said, but "nothing stupid."

"You don't want to make such a ridiculous call that you look foolish," he added.

Winning a race this season remains a goal for Earnhardt Jr., and he has six races remaining to do it. If the team doesn't win at Charlotte, Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix or Homestead, the Hendrick Motorsports said it would be "a disappointment" despite also being "an improvement" over last year.

"We are happy with the gains that we have made, and I think that the team and Steve (Letarte) expect more and I do, too," he said. "We are happy that we gained, but we are not winning enough races and running as well as we would like to. That is what we will work on."

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