Dale Jr. emphasizes why it's important to keep pushing in the playoffs

With no opportunity to participate in the NASCAR playoffs in his final full-time season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team are turning to other goals to continue to motivate them.

Dale Jr. emphasizes why it's important to keep pushing in the playoffs
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

“There is a concern, I guess, that you could get sort of complacent and go through these races and maybe some of the urgency or importance falls away a little bit because there is no ultimate carrot about there like that championship trophy,” he said at Chicagoland Speedway.

“So, I think, you know, we will consciously all kind of remind each other as a team to keep pushing hard and to keep working hard. I’m done at the end of the year, but they go on.”

Alex Bowman will replace Earnhardt in the No. 88 next season and it’s expected, most if not all, of the team will remain intact.

Important to keep pushing

Earnhardt knows from experience how a team enters the offseason can influence how the new one begins.

“That off season is a few months, but how you end the season it definitely effects how you begin the next one,” he said. “If you sort of tail off and you don’t put all your effort into that ending you sort of start flat the next year and it takes you awhile to sort of get things sorted out.

“Without that kind of carrot or that urgency of being in the playoffs, I think it is just important for us to continue to remind each other to push; continue to remind each other to work hard, to set personal goals for the team.”

Earnhardt said one goal the team discussed after arriving at Chicagoland this weekend was to work toward getting in the Top 20 of the series standings (Earnhardt is currently 22nd).

“We have the opportunity to beat a few guys, so it sucks that is our goal, but we are going to put little goals out there for ourselves that are personal achievements to push ourselves to keep working,” he said. “You take pride in that. 

“We feel like we should be in the playoffs, we are not, so we are going to try to gain as many spots until the end of the year as we can and in the points. That is a carrot for us to continue to push for. I think that is important.”  

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