Dale Earnhardt Jr.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Martinsville Preview
News & Notes
POINTS WITH FOUR TO GO: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, advanced to sixth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing second at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last weekend. With four races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 52 points.
200TH TOP 10: Earnhardt notched his 200th top-10 result in the Sprint Cup Series after finishing second at Talladega. He ranks seventh in this category among active, full-time drivers.
AT MARTINSVILLE: In 27 Cup starts at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Earnhardt has scored 10 top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and has led 868 laps. He has twice recorded his career-best runner-up finish at the Virginia short track behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet — first in October 2008 and again in April 2011.
PERSONAL BESTS: Earnhardt’s 868 laps led at Martinsville are his personal best at a track. He has tallied 256 of those laps driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. His 10 top-five finishes at Martinsville match his personal best at a track. He also has 10 top-five finishes at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega.
SHORT TRACK STATS: In 84 Cup starts on short tracks, Earnhardt has recorded four wins, 26 top-five finishes and 40 top-10s. He has a 17.1 average starting position and an average finishing position of 12.9 on these racetracks.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt is ranked fourth in the driver rating category at Martinsville with a score of 98.8. 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.
LAPS IN THE TOP 15: Earnhardt ranks third among drivers for laps run in the top 15 during the last 17 races at Martinsville behind teammates Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt has spent 76.6 percent of all laps (6,533 of 8,534 laps) in the top 15 per NASCAR’s loop statistics.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-789 for this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt first raced this chassis at Martinsville in April.
HENDRICK BESTS AT MARTINSVILLE: Hendrick Motorsports has recorded its most wins, top-five finishes and top-10s at Martinsville. The organization has 20 victories there, with Johnson most recently reaching Victory Lane at the short track in April 2013. Johnson now ranks third among drivers all-time with eight victories at Martinsville. Gordon leads active drivers at the Virginia short track in the following statistical categories: top-five finishes (26), top-10s (33) and laps led (3,515). Gordon also ranks first among active drivers with a 7.2 starting position, and Johnson ranks first with an average finish of 5.3.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS (ON MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY.): “Martinsville isn’t quite the momentum racetrack you think. If you get some clear room and a bit of space between you and your competitors, you can get into a rhythm where you’re doing things repetitively from corner to corner that are working and that give your car speed. So it’s not really about momentum as it is about repetition. You’ll find a line that you like and just continue to repeat that or do little tweaks on it each time you go through the corner and find things that work and don’t work.”