POINTS REPORT: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, earned his sixth top-10 finish of the season recently after finishing 10th at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on April 27. He now ranks fourth in the driver standings and trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 46 points. Nine races into the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt has three top-five finishes and owns the third-best average finishing position.
AT TALLADEGA: In 26 Cup starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Earnhardt has recorded five wins, nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. He scored a record-setting four consecutive wins at the 2.66-mile superspeedway from October 2001 to April 2003.
TALLADEGA SUCCESS: Earnhardt’s five wins at Talladega are the most for him at any track and rank him third all-time among drivers at the Alabama oval. Earnhardt’s father Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon has recorded six.
LEADING LAPS: Earnhardt Jr. has led in all but two of the 26 Sprint Cup races he has entered at Talladega for a total of 737 laps. He has led a lap in each of his 10 starts behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The 38-year-old has led more career laps at only two other venues: short tracks Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (868 laps) and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (758 laps).
TALLADEGA CHASSIS: This weekend at Talladega, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-773. This is the same chassis Earnhardt raced to a second-place finish in February at the 2013 Daytona 500.
SUPERSPEEDWAY STATS: In 53 combined Cup starts on the superspeedways of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega, Earnhardt has recorded seven wins, 19 top-five finishes and 28 top-10s. He has led a total 1,133 laps on NASCAR’s restrictor-plate tracks.
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data, Earnhardt is third in laps run in the top 15 (1,820 of 3,044 total) during the past 16 races at Talladega. Earnhardt is also second in the average running position (15.016) and third in laps led (248 laps) during that same timeframe.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks second in the driver rating category at Talladega with an 89.6 score. The driver rating is a formula that combines the following categories: wins, finishes, 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 points 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.
SEASON-TO-DATE: Earnhardt and Johnson headline two categories apiece inside NASCAR’s season-to-date loop data. Earnhardt is the league’s best closer right now with an average improvement of 2.9 positions in the last 10 percent of each race (26 total), and he also has a league-best 478 quality passes, which tallies the times he has passed a car inside the top 15. Johnson owns a series-best 7.2 average finish and has posted 234 fastest laps to rank first in that category.
TOP 10 LOOP: The Hendrick Motorsports quartet of Cup drivers ranks inside the top eight for average running position after the first nine events of the 2013 season. With a 7.1 average running position, Johnson ranks second. Kasey Kahne ranks third with 11.9, Earnhardt is seventh with 12.5, and Gordon is eighth with 12.7.
HENDRICK AT TALLADEGA: In 58 events (186 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 47 top-five finishes and 70 top-10s. Seven of the organization’s wins have happened after its drivers started the race ninth or better. In the team’s most recent Talladega win, Earnhardt pushed Johnson to Victory Lane in April 2011. Johnson, the outside pole sitter, matched the closest margin of victory recorded — .002 seconds — since the use of electronic scoring.
STARTER POWER: Of its eight Talladega pole positions, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded six during the last seven Cup events at the 2.66-mile oval. In April 2011, the organization qualified a team-best 1-2-3-4, becoming just the third team in Sprint Cup history to qualify in the first four starting positions. This feat previously was accomplished by owner Pete DePaolo in 1956 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Jack Roush in 2005 at Auto Club Speedway.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS (ON TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY.): “Talladega is a lottery because the guy who wins has done something right and earned it. You just really don’t have quite as much control over your own destiny here as you do at other racetracks. And I think that will always be the case. But some guys are making it work. Somebody’s going to win the race, and I want to be that guy.”