DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND STEVE LETARTE
Why have you guys clicked so well?
STEVE LETARTE We click? (Laughter)
DALE EARNHARDT JR. He’s a hard
worker and I was kind of needing a kick in
the tail, you know? Steve was ready for a
change, I guess. I don’t want to speak for
him, but that’s what he’s said before. He
wanted a new challenge and I was
important. I really enjoyed working with
Jeff [Gordon], but we lacked success the
last year or year and a half together. We’re
very good friends but, as good friends,
there came a point when we had to admit
that we needed to do better. So, like I say,
the timing of the switch was perfect.
“When I went to work with Stevie,
I was intimidated, but I also tried to
make myself more accountable”
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
needing a new environment myself, I
guess. And I think we both had the same
feelings about where we wanted to go
and what we wanted out of ourselves.
LETARTE Mr. Hendrick is a magician
when it comes to timing and I truly think
the timing of the switcharound was very
How important was moving the 88 into
the same garage as the 48?
EARNHARDT Well, it’s a different
environment and a different culture, for
sure. I think it helped me because they
definitely do things differently and they
have different expectations. When I went
over there to work with Stevie, I was
intimidated, but I also really tried to make
myself more accountable and I think being
around that group brought it out of me.
Up to then I thought I was doing just
enough to get the job done, but getting in
their shop showed me that, man, if you’re
going to do it at all, just give it everything
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84 SEPTEMBER 2012