Dale Earnhardt Jr.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Talladega Preview
News & Notes
POINTS WITH FIVE TO GO: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew/Xbox One Chevy SS, ranks ninth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing 15th at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway last weekend. With five races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Matt Kenseth by 66 points.
AT TALLADEGA: In 27 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 superspeedway. Earnhardt’s father Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon has recorded six.
LEADING LAPS: Earnhardt Jr. has led in all but three of the 27 Sprint Cup races he has entered at Talladega for a total of 737 laps. He has led a lap in 10 of his 11 starts behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The 39-year-old has led more career laps at only two other venues: short tracks Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (868 laps) and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (790 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 and to an eighth-place finish at Daytona in July. He also raced this chassis at Talladega in May.
SUPERSPEEDWAY STATS: In 55 combined Cup starts on the superspeedways of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega, Earnhardt has recorded seven wins, 19 top-five finishes and 29 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 (1,919 of 3,236 total) during the past 17 races at Talladega. Earnhardt is also second in the average running position (15.096) and fourth 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 89.9 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.
HENDRICK AT TALLADEGA: In 59 events (190 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 48 top-five finishes and 71 top-10s. The organization’s 11 victories rank second all-time behind Richard Childress Racing (12). In Hendrick Motorsports’ 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.
RESTRICTOR-PLATE VICTORS: Among drivers all-time at the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, Gordon ranks first with 12 victories and Earnhardt is third with seven. Gordon’s six pole positions rank him tied for second all-time in that category at restrictor-plate tracks. With a pole this weekend, Gordon could move into a tie for first with Sterling Marlin, who has seven.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW/XBOX ONE CHEVROLET SS (ON TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY.): “I’ve really have had a lot of success at Talladega, a lot of great runs. I feel confident when we go there that we are going to have a good car, going to know how to use it. Hendrick Motorsports has done a great job with this car at Daytona and Talladega. Our confidence level is real good, real high. Hopefully, we get an opportunity to have a good race on Sunday and go to Victory Lane. We really feel like we have a good shot at it and feel like it is about that time for us to win one at Talladega.”