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POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew “Paint the 88″/National Guard Chevrolet, currently ranks seventh in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after finishing 11th at Dover (Del.) International Speedway last weekend. With seven races remaining in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Brad Keselowski by 39 points.
AT TALLADEGA: In 25 Cup starts at Talladega, 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 25 Sprint Cup races he has entered at Talladega for a total of 719 laps. He has led a lap in each of his nine starts behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The 37-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. 88-699. Earnhardt raced this chassis three times this season, collecting an average 8.7th-place finish at the two restrictor-plate racetracks on the schedule: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (second-place in February and 15th-place in July) and Talladega Superspeedway (ninth in May).
SUPERSPEEDWAY STATS: In 51 combined Cup starts on the superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega, Earnhardt has recorded seven wins, 18 top-five finishes and 27 top-10s. He has led a total 1,115 laps on NASCAR’s restrictor-plate tracks.
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data, Earnhardt leads all drivers in the average running position (14.802) during the past 15 races at Talladega. Earnhardt is third in laps run in the top 15 (1,726 of 2,855 total) and third in laps led (230 laps) during that same timeframe.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt is second in the driver rating category at Talladega with a 90 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 57 events (182 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 46 top-five finishes and 69 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 Jimmie 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.
RUNNER-UP STREAK: Gordon kept Hendrick Motorsports’ streak of second-place finishes intact by taking runner-up honors on Sept. 30 at Dover. Currently, the organization has six straight runner-up results, dating back to Aug. 25 when Johnson finished second at Bristol. In 29 races this season, the four Hendrick teammates have combined to record 12 runner-up finishes.
HENDRICK IN THE CHASE: During the first three races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the four championship-contending teammates have averaged a finish of 8.6. Johnson, ranked second in the standings, leads his teammates with an average finish of 2.7.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW “PAINT THE 88″/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON STRATEGY AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY.): “We’ve rode around and played it pretty conservative before. That hasn’t really worked out. Last couple times we’ve been racing just as hard as we can race, and I think that’s just about what we’ll do this time.”