MICHIGAN WIN: Earnhardt is the defending winner of this weekend’s race at Michigan. The June 17, 2012, victory was his second win in a points-paying event for Hendrick Motorsports and his most recent win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Earnhardt started the race 17th and led 95 laps on his way to a 5.393 second lead over second-place.
TOP-10 FINISHES: Earnhardt earned his ninth top-10 finish of the 2013 Sprint Cup season after he crossed the line third last Sunday at Pocono Raceway. Earnhardt’s nine top-10 finishes tie him with teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most in the Cup Series. Earnhardt earned a career-best 21 top 10s in 2003 and 2004.
POINTS AFTER POCONO: After finishing third last week at Pocono Raceway, Earnhardt advances to fourth in the championship standings. He trails leader Johnson by 82 points.
AT MICHIGAN: In 27 Cup starts at Michigan, Earnhardt has recorded two wins, two pole positions, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has completed 99.2 percent of all laps he’s attempted (5,252 laps of 5,295 total) and led 293 laps.
MICHIGAN POLES: Earnhardt’s two career pole positions at Michigan are tied for first as career-bests for the 38-year-old driver. He also has captured two career poles at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data, Earnhardt has the Cup Series’ fifth-best average running position (12.512) during the last 16 races at Michigan. In that same timeframe, Earnhardt has an 10.5 average finish, ranking him fourth overall among active drivers
DRIVER RATING: Earnhardt ranks fifth in the driver rating category at Michigan with a score of 97.1. 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 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-716. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May. Notably, this is the same chassis Earnhardt drove to Victory Lane in Michigan last June.
HENDRICK AT MICHIGAN: In 58 races (186 starts) at Michigan, Hendrick Motorsports has six wins, 44 top-five finishes and 80 top-10s. Jeff Gordon ranks tied for first among active, full-time drivers with 18 top-five finishes, and he leads active, full-time drivers with five pole positions.
SEASON TO DATE: After 14 Cup races this season, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers rank inside the top 11 in the championship standings. Points leader Johnson is tied for first with a series-best three victories, and he also leads the Series with an 8.1 average finish, 6.5 average running position and 4,018 laps in the top 15. Earnhardt ranks fourth, while Kasey Kahne is eighth in the standings and has the other Hendrick Motorsports victory this season. Kahne also leads the Series with 476 fastest laps run. Gordon is ranked 11th in the standings.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD “MAN OF STEEL” CHEVROLET SS (ON HIS APPROACH TO MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY.): “I think you approach it like any other race, but we are going in with a lot more confidence because we ran well there last year. But you’ve got to be patient. I looked through the notes from last year, and we didn’t unload perfect. We had to work to get it right. You don’t go in with confidence that you are going to go there and it will be perfect. You have the confidence to know that we will get it dialed in.”