“I Am Overly Worried About it”

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MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – APRIL 07: Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Hellmann’s Fridge Hunters Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Call 811 Before You Dig 250 powered by Call 811.com at Martinsville Speedway on April 07, 2022 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
The course to the NASCAR season’s finale in Phoenix is getting closer. After an intense 8 weeks of high-octane playoff racing, NASCAR will return to Martinsville as their penultimate stop before heading to the Championship 4 race. After a look at how things stand in the Xfinity Series, two-time Xfinity champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. had some reasons to celebrate in recent weeks, with one of his drivers sealing a spot in the finale.
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A plethora of emotions erupted for Junior at Homestead-Miami. While his driver, Sam Mayer, won his first race on a venue other than a road course this season, Earnhardt himself ran well all race to rack a P5 finish. JR Motorsports has continuously strived for success in the Xfinity Series and keeps doing so. However, as much as Junior tries to avoid controversy, sometimes it is impossible to stay out of it. After an interview with regular-season champion Austin Hill, Junior fears a potential drama might be brewing in the background.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is worried about a rival driver
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Getting Sam Mayer into the playoffs will significantly boost the team. He has been in fine form this season, making it his fourth win and a cruise-control entry into Phoenix. Richard Childress Racing‘s strongest weapon, Austin Hill, on the other hand, has experienced a fate similar to Martin Truex Jr. in the Cup Series. The two regular-season champions have been off the mark for the entirety of the playoffs, and a threat of being eliminated looms on their minds.
In the previous installment of the Dale Jr. Download, which was graced by Austin, Junior said, “Austin Hill is not an ally. He is a competitor. We’re racing, like you said, for the Xfinity Series championship. But, I will say, I got a lot of respect for this guy. Really talented, no-nonsense, we’ve seen him stand up for himself inside and outside the race car.”
The major reason for tension for Dale Earnhardt Jr. was that they booked Hill’s arrival on the podcast weeks prior to the actual date, and this could have affected the race in a negative way. Drivers from JRM could have a run-in with him, and the possibility of that is scary to the 49-year-old. Hill is also three points above the cutline, which means the urgency is within him for now. Continuing from where he left off the other day, Earnhardt starts a new episode of the podcast. As he said,
“Coming right off yesterday’s interview with Austin Hill, Mike, it was a great opportunity to sit down with a current driver in the sport, one of the drivers actually in the Xfinity Series that’s relatively new to the scene, if you will. Didn’t know a ton about Austin, glad we got a chance to talk to him. Hopefully, nothing weird happens on the racetrack in the next couple of weeks between him and the Xfinity Series. I don’t know I’m overly worried about that.”
How the podcast becomes a factor in Hill’s encounter with either of Mayer or Justin Allgaier remains to be seen.
Austin Hill believes he does not have a strong chance at Martinsville
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The shortest track on NASCAR’s schedule is a real challenge for drivers. The race will typically feel even more frustrating to Austin Hill, considering he will be in a hurry to make his race matter and rake in a win or as many points as possible. But the 29-year-old didn’t shy away from making his inability at Martinsville known and highlighted that it couldn’t have arrived at a worse time for him.
“People don’t understand the h*ll that puts a driver through, having to sit all week at that number, just right there at the cut line, not being safe, not knowing your fate right? Going to Martinsville of all the d*mn places. Yeah Martinsville, if you look at my stats there, they are not the greatest. I finish well there, but throughout the race, there are stages and things like that.”
JRM’s Allgaier also finds himself in a precarious situation. With the #7 driver finishing in P15 last week, a rough and demanding weekend lies ahead for him. Allgaier is behind the cutoff line by three points, the same margin as Austin Hill. With Martinsville proving to be detrimental for Hill, Justin could take advantage of his weakness and put up a solid display to bridge the relatively close gap.
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Looking at all the factors that will be weighing in at the weekend, it is understandable why Dale Earnhardt Jr. is worried about Hill and his upcoming race. Having spilled the beans on his weaknesses, some drivers might be keeping close tabs on this particular episode of the podcast.

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