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Earnhardt Jr. keeps it positive

The SportsXchange

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows only too well that racing at Talladega Superspeedway can engender a feeling of total helplessness.

Nonetheless, he believes a positive attitude in the face of everything that can possibly go wrong in high-speed, white-knuckle restrictor-plate racing is essential to success.

"I think you can psych yourself out, and you can definitely anticipate negative results and negative things happening so much that you almost guarantee that as your fate," Earnhardt said Friday before opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at the 2.66-mile track.

"I think if you think positively -- 'Man, this is going to work; I'm going to make the right choices when things aren't quite working right; I'm going to keep striving and keep pushing, and I'm going to make this a good result; I'm going to get something out of this today' -- typically it works out."

Accordingly, Earnhardt makes a point of accentuating the positive and trying to eliminate the negative.

"Typically, that attitude is going to prevail over 'Man, this isn't going to work; every time I come here I'm going to wreck; every time I come here I'm going to have trouble; I can't figure it out; why even try,'" Earnhardt said.

"That attitude never works."

CAN LIGHTNING STRIKE TWICE?

Talladega has often produced unexpected winners, but David Ragan doesn't think it's likely that he and Front Row Motorsports teammate David Gilliland can re-create the 1-2 finish they achieved in May.

"I think the chances are not in our favor," said Ragan, who, along with Gilliland, has agreed to a contract extension with Front Row. "You never know what may happen, but I think the chances for that perfect storm happening two consecutive races is probably not realistic."

Late in the spring race, Gilliland pushed Ragan to the front after a green-white-checkered restart. Fortunately, the teammates were in position to work together for the overtime win. Though Ragan thinks both he and Gilliland can race well in Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 500, the chances of similar circumstances occurring at the end of the race are slim.

"The chances of us both having a good day are realistic, and you just never know," Ragan said. "You have to control things that you can control, and if I can do that, and David can do that with his team, we may be in the same situation again.

"But we're certainly not counting on any situation like that to just come out of thin air late in the race."

SHORT STROKES

Brendan Gaughan will drive the No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year with sponsorship from family-founded South Point Hotel & Casino of Las Vegas. Gaughan will start the 2014 season with the owner points accumulated this by RCR's No. 33 Chevy, which featured multiple drivers behind the wheel... Aspen Dental will serve as primary sponsor for two 2014 races on the hood of Danica Patrick's No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series. The blue-and-white Aspen Dental paint scheme will be featured March 9 at Las Vegas and Aug. 31 at Atlanta. Joe Gibbs Racing has named Denny Hamlin and Drew Herring as substitute drivers for Brian Vickers, who will miss the remaining 2013 NNS races because of a recently discovered blood clot in his leg. Hamlin will drive the No. 20 Toyota at Texas, with Herring will taking over at Phoenix and Homestead. Herring has two top 10s in four Nationwide starts for JGR this year. ... With cars drafting two- and sometimes three-wide in the Friday's opening Sprint Cup practice, Aric Almirola posted the fastest lap at 202.000 mph. Only eight of the 13 Chase drivers participated in the second practice session, which was dominated by single-car runs. Jimmie Johnson led Happy Hour with a lap at 195.939 mph. Qualifying for Sunday's race is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. ET Saturday.
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