Earnhardt turning it around with little fanfare

NASCAR's most popular driver isn't getting much attention these days despite a strong start that has him in the top 10 of the standings.

That's weird for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who usually can't do anything without attracting a flock of followers who hang on his every move both on and off the track.

"It's considerably more lowkey that it has been in the past," he said. "The first four years in the series was pretty wide open. Last year sort of took a lot of spotlight off us and put it on some other drivers that were coming into the series.

"In a sense, it's kind of fine with me. But at the same time, you want to be as successful as you can in the sport. We definitely want to get back to our form on the race track. I think everything else will take care of itself."

Earnhardt will try to race his way back into the spotlight at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he starts 19th in Sunday's Food City 500 race. Qualifying was washed out by rain, so the field was set based on last year's owner's points and everyone knows how terrible 2005 was for Earnhardt.

He started last year with a new crew, never found any chemistry or rhythm and failed to qualify for the Chase for the championship. He wound up a career-worst 19th in the final standings.

But he was reunited with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. who is also his cousin for the final 10 races of last year and gave his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team a head start on this season. The early preparation has paid off with two top-10 finishes in the first four races, including a third place last Monday in Atlanta.

"We're definitely better than we were last year," Earnhardt said, reports AP.


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