Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he's heard the conspiracy theories about his Daytona Nationwide Series win last week – but isn't buying them.
Some cynical fans have had a hard time believing that a storybook night such as the one Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed in the No. 3 car at Daytona – driving his father's old number and Wrangler paint scheme – could really happen without NASCAR's interference.
Earnhardt Jr. said he heard the same thing when he won the July Daytona race in 2001, just months after his father was killed at the track.
"You hear that stuff," he said Friday. "I heard that stuff when we won in 2001, you know. I heard that it might have been a conspiracy, this, that and the other.
"I don't know man. This sport has too much to lose pulling tricks like that. I believe, as far as on our end, with everything we knew about it, it was pretty legit."
Earnhardt Jr. said his cousin and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. was fired up about people suggesting their victory was somehow not gained through proper means.
"He reads too much," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He needs to work more during the week instead of sitting at the desk reading on the internet all the time. That or all of his buddies calling and harassing him about it."
As far as this weekend at Chicagoland and the summer stretch run, Earnhardt Jr. said he's "nervous about them all" because of the impact any bad race could have on his Chase chances.
"I need to approach each one as if it is the most important race of the season," he said.
Earnhardt Jr. said recently the COT cars have been driving better for him (he used to dislike the new cars much more than he does now) and even said "I'm starting to grow on them a little bit."
"My cars feel better to me," he said. They're more comfortable. I feel like I'm able to drive them instead of the car really being difficult to control. I don't know if the spoiler helped me any but it feels like to me that I have a little less downforce on the back and the aero balance on the car is a little bit better, which I feel like I'm liking that better."
Crew chief Lance McGrew's hard work is part of the reason for that, said Earnhardt Jr., who added that despite the two "still bicker and joke and pick on each other" that "I believe in what he's doing."
"I put my faith in them when we go to the race track that we're doing the right thing," he said. "I don't question what they're doing, their ideas or their direction. And I just try to believe in it and try to keep a positive attitude."