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Dale Earnhardt Jr. says no need for ‘knee-jerk reaction’ to Talladega incidents

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega. AP photo Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega. AP photo

By Dustin Long, NBC Sports

(NBS Sports) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that “everybody just need to chill’’ and there doesn’t need to be a “knee-jerk reaction” to the accidents in last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Earnhardt made his comments Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR has stated Monday it is investigating the incidents at Talladega that included Chris Buescher tumbling down the backstretch and Matt Kenseth going upside down in separate accidents. Austin Dillon’s car went airborne into the catch fence at Daytona last July, making three cars that have gone upside down in the last four restrictor-plate races.

NASCAR’s post-race report for Sunday listed 35 of the 40 cars as being involved in accidents.

Earnhardt was involved in two incidents during the race before he was eliminated and finished last.

Sunday’s event was run under the threat of rain and that raised the race’s intensity throughout the entire 188 laps instead of it building toward the finish.

“When the weather is great, everybody knows they don’t pay until the last lap, so we sort of try to take care of ourselves so we can be there at the last lap,’’ Earnhardt told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “In this particular race, it looked like everybody was just putting a lot more emphasis on their track position, and if they didn’t like it, they needed to work on it instantly, right then and there. That made for a lot more action, a lot more accidents, but every race is different.

“We may go to Daytona and Talladega without changing a thing and not having anything that looks anything like we had Sunday. I think everybody just needs to chill. There’s really no reason to make a knee-jerk reaction to what we saw Sunday and see how it plays out the rest of the year.’’

Asked on “The Morning Drive” what kind of fix could be made, Earnhardt said: “There’s no fix. There isn’t a fix. The cars are going to draft, they’re going to stay close together.

“If you’re wanting to go try something, you’ve got to be willing for it to not work, and if the race is a snooze-fest, you’ve got to accept that and own it. You either do that or you leave it as it is and look back over the track record of this package has been pretty decent and it’s had some pretty good races.’’

It’s much different from the tandem racing in 2010-11. Earnhardt was a critic of that type of racing, which featured one car pushing another instead of the field running together in a big pack. NASCAR eventually changed the rules, outlawing that type of racing on restrictor-plate tracks. Pack racing returned.

Earnhardt also acknowledged on “The Morning Drive” that drivers bear responsibility for what happened Sunday.

“We don’t want to wreck, we don’t want to be in races where we’re wrecking all the time, but the drivers carry a lot of responsibility for that,’’ he told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We realize that as drivers that we control a lot of the issues that happen out on the race track.

“I was one of the guys who spun out by themselves and I wasn’t out there for the rest of the stuff, so I kind of have to hold my opinions a little bit closer to my chest there because I wasn’t out there to exactly see what was going on,. So it’s hard for me to point the finger at anywhere particularly. I think where we are is not a bad place to be. We went and tried to engineer the plate package in the past and it’s not really had good results, so I don’t know if we need to keep changing without knowing what we’re changing and why we’re changing it.’’

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