A frustrated Dale Earnhardt Jr. said his No. 88 team fell behind in practice and never recovered, which ultimately resulted in a disappointing 33rd-place starting position for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"I wasn't prepared as a driver, and we could probably do a little bit more on speed with the car," Earnhardt Jr. said, visibly displeased. "Those two things together cost us a little bit of time today."
Earnhardt Jr.'s comment about lack of preparation was in regard to big bumps on the track in Turns 1 and 2. Many drivers said today that the bottom lane of those turns is now quite bumpy, because the earth has settled around the vehicle tunnel located underneath.
In practice, Earnhardt Jr. said he didn't have a chance to work on the top of the track – where it figured to be less bumpy. So when he drove up there in qualifying, he was doing so for the first time. And it didn't work out.
He hoped crew chief Steve Letarte and the team would work to help make the car better overnight.
"Practice tomorrow is really, really short, so it's going to be imperative that we start in the ballpark," Earnhardt Jr. said. "There's not a lot of time (during practice) to do any major changes.
"I feel like we can run good here, I'm just real frustrated I didn't do better in qualifying, frustrated at our lack of speed today – we've been off a couple tenths. But we'll work hard tomorrow."
Earnhardt Jr. had a poor qualifying lap last week at Phoenix, but scored a top-10 finish in the race itself. He hopes the trend continues at Las Vegas, but said he "hated" having to constantly explain away a bad practice or qualifying lap.
"I thought we would unload faster, and I thought we would be better in qualifying trim," he said. "We just didn't put it together today. We'll just work on it and try to do better tomorrow."