Dale Earnhardt Jr. has taken to the simulator to improve his performance and so far this weekend at Dover International Speedway, it seems to be paying off.
Friday at the Monster Mile, Earnhardt qualified the N0. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 11th for Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism, his best starting spot at a non-restrictor-plate track since he qualified third at Phoenix in March.
Earnhardt said that spending time in Chevrolet’s simulator has helped he and the team unlock some speed in their cars.
“Real excited, actually,” Earnhardt said after qualifying. “We went to the simulator, which is something we’ve been trying to infuse into our process a little bit more. It’s been bearing some fruit and helping us out and making us feel more confidence going into the race weekends.
Earnhardt said that working on the simulator helps the team be more efficient in practice and not chase setups that won’t produce results. Given the limited amount of practice time teams have, that’s important.
“We know what not to mess with that is going to waste a lot of practice time and we can just hit the things that we thought we liked in the (simulator),” he said. “They correlated really well today. We got the car better in race trim. We only made one change and then swapped over really quick.”
Earnhardt said he has been working closely with the other Hendrick drivers on setups, too.
“We are definitely still leaning on our teammates, our set-ups are really similar so we can communicate and work off of each other and that seemed to work really well for both of us, at least for me in Charlotte,” he said.
Saturday morning at Dover, Earnhardt was sixth in the first practice and 16th in the final session. Of course, the big question is, how will that translate on Sunday? Earnhardt and the rest of the field will find out soon.
Pretty happy with our speed in the @nationwide88 today. 5th on lap average in final practice. Lots of studying tonight for more gains.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 3, 2017
gallery: Qualifying results, starting lineup for AAA Drive for Autism 400 at Dover