POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt finished seventh last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and currently ranks third in the driver standings. After three NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season, Earnhardt has two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 10 points.
STRONG START: Earnhardt is off to the best Cup start of his career with three consecutive top-10 results and an average finish of 4.7 in the first three events of the 2013 season. Prior to this year, his best start was last year when he drove the No. 88 Chevy to an average finish of 8.66 in the first three 2012 contests.
SEASON-TO-DATE: Earnhardt ranks third among drivers in the first three races of the season with an average running position of 9.502 and third after spending 81.7 percent of the laps run (640 of 783) in the top 15. He has been recorded as the second-fastest driver on restarts with an average rank of 8.667 during his first two laps under green-flag conditions.
AT BRISTOL: In 26 Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. The 38-year-old driver has an average finishing position of 11.7 and has completed 98.9 percent of all laps he’s attempted (12,865 of 13,013 total) at the short track. He has led 758 laps at the .533-mile oval.
PERSONAL BEST: Earnhardt’s 11.8 average finish at Bristol is a personal best for the driver in the Sprint Cup Series. In the last 22 races there, Earnhardt has finished 11th or better 15 times.
BEST AVERAGE FINISH: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt has the best average finish among all drivers in the last 16 Cup races at Bristol. Earnhardt, who recorded eight top-10s during that timeframe, has an average finish of 9.9 and is the only drivers with an average finish in the top 10 during that span.
DRIVER RATING: Earnhardt ranks 11th in the driver rating category at Bristol Motor Speedway with a score of 87.9, according to loop data. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-745. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to an 11th-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway last September.
HENDRICK AT BRISTOL: In 58 Cup events (183 starts) at Bristol, Hendrick Motorsports has nine wins, 46 top-five finishes, 82 top-10s and 11 pole positions. Jeff Gordon is tied for first among active drivers with five wins at the track, while Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane there for the organization in March 2010.
SHORT TRACK POWER: Among active drivers at tracks less than one mile in length, Hendrick Motorsports ranks atop the competition in wins and laps led; Gordon is first in both categories with 17 victories and 7,891 laps led. Gordon sits second with 61 top-five finishes (Terry Labonte has 62 among active drivers); and Gordon also ranks second with 18 pole positions (Mark Martin has 19 at tracks less than a mile in length). Heritage trivia? When it comes to racing at Bristol, Labonte earned his most recent top-five result (March 2000) at Bristol driving the No. 5 Chevy, while Martin powered the Hendrick Motorsports machine to his most recent pole there in August 2009.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS (ON BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): “I love racing at Bristol and short track racing in general. I look forward to going there every trip. It’s always a tough race, and hopefully, we will come out on top.”