With the last name Earnhardt, everybody automatically expects you to do well once you hit the track. That’s no exception with Jeffrey Earnhardt, as there are already predictions hitting the floor.
Jeffrey Earnhardt will be driving the No. 1 Fuel Doctor Truck for Rick Ware Racing for the entire season after running a part-time schedule last year.
"Well, I guess it was like two or three years ago, I got the opportunity to drive some Nationwide races for him," he said. "We went to Dover and tried to make the race and ended up not making the race, but that’s when I first met him.
"This opportunity came about to do five races, and obviously, the five races last year led to a full season this year."
He came out of the gate with a top 10 at Daytona and went to Phoenix and finished 19th. While everybody is looking for this success, right now, he is set on learning lessons and moving forward with them.
"So far, I’ve had a pretty good season starting off," he told me before Darlington. "We finished seventh at Daytona and we finished 19th at Phoenix–didn’t have the best shot, but we ran it right to the end of the race and we didn’t have a single scratch on the truck. Anytime you can finish out a race like that it’s definitely progress.
"We’re just slowly working on making our entire program better. We’re just waiting for everything to fall into place to run up front, but for now it’s just having everything work in order, giving the feedback and getting the seat time to learn these trucks."
This past weekend at Darlington, he had a tough weekend as he wrecked in practice and went with a back-up truck. He stuck with it, though, as in the race, he made some contact with the wall but still came home to finish 20th.
The expectation for the year is to win rookie of the year, while looking for that valuable experience.
"We want to go out here and run the best we can, but also we want to go out and learn as much as we can with finishing races," he said. "I mean, if we do that then I don’t see why we can’t be competing to win rookie of the year.
"There’s definitely a possibility as we’ll see how the year goes and where it takes us, but to start, it’s just to get as much seat time and just go from there."
He hopes to carry that experience to the higher levels in NASCAR and hopes to be in Cup in five years.
"Obviously, my goal is too potentially to end up at that level, and five years from now I should be there," he said. "And hopefully win a championship in one of the three NASCAR series, whether Nationwide or Truck, but I’d like to be at the Cup level in five years."
Earnhardt is aware of the expectations of being an Earnhardt, but is here to do his own thing.
"There’s a lot of expectation and a lot of pressure that gets put on you," he said. "It’s just that you got to learn how to deal with it and if you can handle it the right way, you’ll be fine and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting it get to me.
"Just doing my thing, and I’m just here to learn and be a race-car driver, and I try not to worry about all that."