POINTS AFTER MICHIGAN: After last weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ranks seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 91 points.
SEASON-TO-DATE STATS: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, has scored four top-five finishes, nine top-10s and led 82 laps in the first 15 races of the Cup season. Earnhardt is tied with two other drivers for most top-10 results this season.
ROAD COURSE TESTING: Earnhardt and the No. 88 National Guard team tested at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C., earlier this month to prepare for this weekend’s race in Sonoma.
EARNHARDT AT SONOMA: Earnhardt has scored five top-15 finishes in 13 Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma, Calif. He has completed 93.9 percent of all the laps he’s attempted (1,353 laps of 1,441 total) at the 1.99-mile California road course. He has scored a career-best 11th-place finish three times there and most recently recorded this result in 2010.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-747. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in August last year.
QUALIFYING CHANGEUP: This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will implement a group-based road course qualifying procedure that NASCAR uses in its other series. Under the procedure, which also will be used at Watkins Glen, N.Y., in August, cars will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car runs held on oval racetracks. Group assignments for Saturday’s qualifying session will be determined by final practice times, and the car’s best lap time during the session will count as the qualifying lap.
HENDRICK AT SONOMA: In 24 Cup events (82 starts) at Sonoma, Hendrick Motorsports leads the competition at the road course in victories (six), top-five finishes (27), top-10s (39), pole positions (nine) and laps led (585). Jeff Gordon owns five of Hendrick Motorsports’ wins at Sonoma, while Johnson earned the organization’s most recent victory there in 2010.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS (ON SONOMA RACEWAY.): “You have to go to Sonoma with a positive attitude and take whatever comes your way. Take the good with the bad the same. We have had a good season, and we want to continue that. We know the reality of the situation is I don’t have a top-10 finish here. We just have to see what we can do. We just have to try our best.”