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Dale Earnhardt Jr. patient, consistent in unusual Vegas race

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran toward the front for most of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400.
Starting 20th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. quickly worked his way toward the front, then stayed among the top 15 for most of the race. He passed Martin Truex Jr. with fewer than 20 laps remaining to take his final position of eighth.

It was his second top-10 finish in as many weeks after finishing second at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the last race. That’s helping him overcome a crash that left him 36th in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
It was a strong day overall for Hendrick Motorsports, as teammate Jimmie Johnson finished third, Kasey Kahne finished 10th and Chase Elliott finished 38th after crashing late in the race.
Still, while he ran well, it certainly wasn't an average day at the desert racetrack. NASCAR drivers dealt with windy conditions early in the race, then a sand storm later.
Asked about the impact of the conditions, Earnhardt Jr. admitted that they made things a bit more challenging.
“Yeah, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two,” he said of the pair of natural events that hit the track. “I think that affected all the cars and made the cars much harder to drive. We had a huge wind blowing across the race track up into the wall off of (Turn) 2 and that made it difficult getting down into the bottom of Turn 3. It was a challenge. And you could definitely tell when the gusts were picking up.”
Earnhardt Jr. said the conditions were not dangerous but did add another dimension to the race.

“Visibility, maybe, is the only thing you get a little nervous about when the sand storm come through, but the winds wasn’t too windy,” he said. “I thought it was before we got in the car, but I was just as intrigued as anybody to see how it would go and how the race would go with these kinds of winds. It’s definitely a factor that makes it another challenge. All the drivers want is more challenges; more hoops to jump through.”
Among those challenges, too, is the new downforce package NASCAR drivers are using at some tracks this season. After racing with the changes at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas on Sunday, Earnhardt Jr. weighed in on those.
After a pair of top-10 finishes in those races, it seems that he would be a fan.
“The one thing that I really like is I can drive up to guys with that little spoiler on the back. I’m not really stuck behind people like we used to be,” he said. “A lot of the drivers are wanting to keep going in this direction and even further. I wasn’t really so sure about that but now I feel like that might be a good move to go even less downforce.
“I don’t know if the blade needs to get shorter, but these things are sealed off on the ground. There’s a lot we could do to the bodies and stuff to take some downforce out of them. I’m sure NASCAR is looking at that. We can’t just keep taking the blade off, but we could probably take a little of an inch off and not really tell the difference.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. patient, consistent in unusual Vegas race
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Great run for him yesterday. I was happy that he came home with a Top 10.
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