Remember all the chatter about NASCAR's new rule affecting the rear sway bar? Before last week's Kentucky race, drivers such as Brad Keselowski predicted the rule would be a "major game-changer."
Some insiders felt teams like Hendrick Motorsports, who ran angled sway bars to much success, would supposedly be weakened – a change that could impact the resurgence of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
As it turned out, the new rule didn't seem to have much impact at all. All four Hendrick drivers finished in the top six at Kentucky, and Earnhardt Jr. was fourth.
Looking back now, Earnhardt Jr. said he was never worried the rule would affect his No. 88 car.
"We felt pretty confident about our cars all year and we've been running pretty good since the year started, so that rule change to me was quite insignificant to every other variable on the car that we're confident in," he said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. "I feel like Steve (Letarte, crew chief) has not just that tiny piece of the car figured out, we've got a lot of other things going in the right direction that have helped us run good all year long."
As for the naysayers who felt the sway bar was the key to Hendrick's success, Earnhardt Jr. said that question was answered before the Quaker State 400 even began.
"I felt like in the first practice and the second practice, we made our statement," he said. "The race was an afterthought. Just the speed we had in the first two practices on Friday should have been a good answer."
Earnhardt Jr. said the concept of a rule change that only affected Hendrick cars "just sounds crazy." While he said the talk served as credit to the intelligence and advances Hendrick had made in that area, he added "we aren't the only ones out there" who know how to use the rear sway bars.
"Maybe those other guys are pretty smart for playing dumb," he said. "The change wasn't going to make a big difference. We've been running good all year long, and I felt like we wouldn't miss a beat. I really didn't have any concern over the rule change whatsoever."