STRONG START: In the first two NASCAR Sprint Cup events of the 2013 season, Earnhardt has recorded back-to-back top-five finishes: a runner-up result at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and a fifth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway. The last time he opened the season with a 3.5 average finish or better was 2004 when he averaged a third-place result in the first two contests after winning the 2004 Daytona 500.
POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt currently ranks second in the Sprint Cup driver standings after finishing fifth last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. He trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by eight points.
AT LAS VEGAS: In 13 Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored two top-five finishes, six top-10s and has led 232 laps. He has a 9.2 average finish behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during the last five Cup events at the track. Earnhardt matched his career-best result there with a runner-up finish in 2008. Earnhardt previously earned second place at the track in 2003.
LAS VEGAS STATS: Among active, full-time drivers, Earnhardt ranks sixth in the laps led category with 232 total at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Orange Chevrolet SS is tied for 10th with two top-five finishes and is tied for fourth with six top-10s among active, full-time drivers at the 1.5-mile racetrack.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-726. Earnhardt most recently raced this car to a seventh–place finish at Texas Motor Speedway last November.
INTERMEDIATE TRACK STATS: In 227 Cup starts on intermediate (one- to two-mile) tracks, Earnhardt has recorded six wins, six pole positions, 44 top-five finishes and 89 top-10s. HAULER PARADE: Team transporter driver Andy Taylor will participate in the NASCAR hauler parade on the Las Vegas Strip on Wednesday. Starting at 6 p.m. local time, the NASCAR team transporters will drive north on the Strip, past some of the world’s most well-known hotels and casinos.
HENDRICK AT LAS VEGAS: In 15 races (58 starts) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has five wins, 15 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s. Kasey Kahne, the all-time pole leader at Las Vegas with three, earned Hendrick Motorsports’ first pole position at the track in the March 2012 Kobalt Tools 400. Johnson leads all drivers at the 1.5-mile oval with four victories, while Jeff Gordon ranks tied for first with six top-five finishes.
INTERMEDIATE POWER: When it comes to competing at 1.5-mile racetracks, Hendrick Motorsports headlines the win, top-five finish, top-10 and laps led categories. Johnson’s 14 wins are the most all-time by a driver at 1.5-mile tracks, while Gordon has the most top-five finishes (52) and top-10s (69). Johnson also is the all-time lap leader at 1.5-mile tracks with 3,441 laps led.
VEGAS DOUBLE: Earnhardt will drive the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet during the 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event on March 9 at Las Vegas. The 1998 and 1999 Nationwide Series champion has scored two top-five finishes and three top-10s in three Nationwide starts at the 1.5-mile track.
STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY ORANGE CHEVROLET SS (ON THURSDAY’S TEST SESSION AT LAS VEGAS.): “Without a doubt the 1.5 and two-mile tracks can make your entire season. The test day (Thursday) in (Las) Vegas is going to be huge. It’s hard because we have got as much track time as possible, but when you test in 30-degree weather in January and December it’s hard to really learn anything. The Vegas weekend in general is going to be really big for all these teams. It just doesn’t stop. That is the thing people don’t realize is you start at a speedway, then you go to a one-mile, then you go to a 1.5-mile, then you go to a half-mile. You kind of hit all of these different venues to start the year. It makes it very difficult to be prepared and to understand what program you need to work on the most.”