NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., took the first steps toward shaking off the effects of his 35th-place Las Vegas finish with a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway today.

Earnhardt, Jr.'s Kentucky test comes one day after his Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet team visited Bristol Motor Speedway and four days after the 29-year-old legacy slipped from first to seventh in the series points standings. He enters this week trailing series leader Matt Kenseth by 125 points.

"Obviously, we're pretty concerned with how we ran last week," Earnhardt, Jr., told nascar.com prior to the test. "In the last 48 hours, we've placed a lot of emphasis on using the next several weeks to test at tracks like Kentucky over and over, lap after lap after lap to try to learn what we need to learn.

Prior to the Las Vegas event, Earnhardt, Jr., started his 2004 campaign with a win at Daytona and a fifth-place performance at Rockingham. He finished a career-best third in the series standings last season with two wins, 13 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes.

"We're going to be on the racetrack as much as we can, every day that we have the opportunity to be there," Earnhardt, Jr., said.

His next opportunity to take to the track will come at Atlanta Motor Speedway tomorrow at 11:20 a.m. when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series opens practice for Sunday's 500-mile race.

Through nine career Atlanta starts, Earnhardt, Jr., has earned one pole, started in the top-five four times, and earned four top-five and five top-10 finishes.

"Atlanta is the fastest place we go, and it's almost impossible to describe the feeling launching into turns one and three at more than 200 mph," Earnhardt, Jr., said through his Web site, www.dalejr.com.

"It takes guts to keep your right foot held down. Atlanta's kind of like Martinsville - we are one of the cars to beat almost every time, but something always seems to happen late in the race to knock us out of a win.

"My goal this year is to get five wins, and, of all the places we visit, Atlanta is one of the tracks I feel we have our best chances of winning."

~ Kentucky Speedway ~