MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been soundly outshone by Kyle Busch, the driver he replaced at Hendrick Motorsports, but he hopes to turn the corner soon.

To that end, Earnhardt and much of the brainpower at Hendrick Motorsports held a meeting recently to air their views and try to stumble on something that would bring improvement.

Earnhardt is 19th in points after five races.

“We talked about a lot of little stuff we could do differently or try,” Earnhardt said Friday at Martinsville.

“We looked at some of the methods and some of the ways that they have had success in the past and we just talked about some ways we could communicate better.”

The ‘we’ included Hendrick competition directors Ken Howes and Doug Duchardt and engineer Brian Whitesell, some of the key players in Hendrick’s always successful organization.

“It was a good and constructive meeting,” Earnhardt said.

“Just trying to give those guys an opportunity to voice their opinions on the situation and take what they say and try to understand it and try to make out team better,” he said.

Busch, who is fourth in points, has said that he’s pleased to be doing better than the driver that replaced him with Hendrick last year, and Earnhardt said Busch has a right to boast.

The younger Busch won 21 races in the top three series last year; Earnhardt won one.

“I wouldn’t trade positions with him, though,” Earnhardt said.

“I like where I’m at and I like my owner and I like my position and I like my opportunity. But right now, he has every right to say what he wants and he’s been able to back it up on the track.”

Goal-oriented

Carl Edwards has three goals this season, and can get one Sunday.

“This season would be the perfect season if we won two races and a championship and those two races would be a Martinsville race and a road course,” he said Friday.

“For me as a driver, those have been the two most difficult things to master. I’m far from being a master here at Martinsville and I feel like I’m getting better at the road courses.

“The wins at those two places would mean the world to me.”

Edwards finished third here last October, his best showing in nine career starts.

Breathing lessons

David Starr’s wife, Kim, had a baby boy a few weeks back, and the driver in the Camping World Truck Series still seems to relive the moment when he recalls it.

“It was freakin’ awesome,” Starr said. “For all those that have kids, you know what I’m talking about. … I’m still blown away by the experience and it’s unbelievable. Just a wow!”

Starr was trying to help his wife during delivery, but almost needed help himself.

“They were telling me to breathe,” he said.

Stat of the day

STAT OF THE DAY: Only four active drivers have won more than once at Martinsville Speedway: Mark Martin (2, the last in 2000); Tony Stewart (2, last in 2006); Himmie Johnson (5, including four of the last five); and Jeff Gordon (7, last in 2005).


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