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Dec 17, 2012 7:49pm
Medium lingzi 1454 posts

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. IndyCar announced its schedule for 2013 on Sunday, including a doubleheader
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Heat answered. Then again. And again. Eventually, Rondo missed, one of the rare
times he didnt deliver on an unforgettable night.BROOKLYN, Mich. —Dale
Earnhardt Jr.s return to Michigan isnt off to a great start. Earnhardt, who won
at Michigan International Speedway in June to snap a four-year losing streak,
will have to start from the back Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. He rubbed
against the wall in practice Saturday and will need to go to a backup car. “We
were making some changes on the car and got the car too loose, and it just came
out from under me in the corner,” Earnhardt said. “I probably was running harder
than I should have been in practice.” Series points leader Jimmie Johnson also
will be in back because of an engine change. Earnhardt tested his backup car at
MIS, back in June. “We know a lot about the car here at this particular track,
where in most cases you dont. So we have that going for us,” Earnhardt said. “We
should be able to put a car out there thats relatively in the ballpark. Other
than just starting in the back, I dont think that its hurt our chances too
much.” Johnson said his team discovered an issue before practice Saturday and
decided to change the engine. “We probably could have run some of this practice,
but I think we had to change the engine regardless,” he said. “We didnt want to
oil the track or create an issue and crash our car.” Johnson was third in
qualifying Friday. Earnhardt was 22nd. Earnhardt broke through at this track in
June, winning for the first time in 144 Cup races. Hes fourth in the points
standings and has nine top-five finishes, but lately he has had his share of
problems. He led the points race even after finishing 32nd at Pocono two weeks
ago—he was forced to the garage at one point because of a busted
transmission. Then last weekend at Watkinss Glen, he was in the top 10 before a
late spin sent him on his way to a 28th-place showing. Marshal Yanda Jersey. The last driver to
sweep the two Cup races at MIS was Bobby Labonte in 1995. Earnhardt has nine
top-10 finishes in 26 starts at the track. “Getting over that hurdle, getting
that first win does a lot to relieve you,” Earnhardt said. “It reassures you
that your team can win. I think if we were still winless, we would still feel a
bit snake-bitten, or somewhat cursed I guess in a way. That might mess your
psyche a little bit, mess with you mentally. But once you do break through that
barrier, it definitely gives you a reason to believe that you can do it again.”
Hell have his work cut out for him Sunday after his practice mishap, but the
victory two months ago has helped Earnhardts confidence. “To me Dale has been
really focused and really into everything that I have been part of this season
with him,” said Kasey Kahne, Earnhardts teammate with Hendrick Motorsports. “Hes
into the racing thing as much as Ive seen him. I havent been really close with
Dale over the years, but Ive known him and been friends with him. I think hes as
passionate and into the racing as Ive seen him right now, so thats good to see.”
Earnhardt had some good news Friday when the Army National Guard extended its
relationship with Hendrick Motorsports. The National Guard will stay on as a
sponsor of Earnhardts No. 88 Cup team. That took some of the focus off his
recent struggles. Another good showing at MIS would help too. “There is a little
bit of added pressure to go back out and have the same performance and run the
same,” he said Friday, before qualifying. “I know that is not always likely.” ’
’ ’ 

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