POINTS AFTER POCONO: After finishing fifth last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains fifth in the championship standings. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 116 points with five races remaining until the 12-car field is set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Johnson and Earnhardt are the only two drivers who have remain ranked inside the top 10 in points for the first 21 races of the season.
AT WATKINS GLEN: In 13 Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Earnhardt has recorded two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He has completed 92 percent of all the laps he’s attempted (1,080 laps of 1,174 total). The 38-year-old driver has led 46 laps there.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-747. Earnhardt first raced this chassis at Watkins Glen in 2012. Most recently, he drove this car to record a 12th-place finish at Sonoma Raceway in June.
SO FAR THIS YEAR: Earnhardt has recorded one pole position, five top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in the first 21 Cup events this year. His 12 top-10 results rank him third overall among drivers during that timeframe.
BACKWARD PIT STOPS: Earnhardt and other Cup drivers will enter pit road from the opposite direction on Sunday, and that will give the Nos. 48 and 88 pit crews a reverse view of the stop. Pit coach Lance Munksgard plans to leave the front-tire changer/carrier combo and rear-tire changer/carrier combo in the same spots on the car. The athletes will pit the same parts of the car as they do on a typical race weekend.
ROAD COURSE STATS: In 27 combined Cup starts at Watkins Glen and Sonoma Raceway, Earnhardt has scored two top-five finishes, three top-10s and led 55 laps.
HENDRICK AT WATKINS GLEN: In 27 races (92 starts) at Watkins Glen, Hendrick Motorsports has six wins, 18 top-five finishes and 33 top-10s. Jeff Gordon ranks second on the all-time win list at WGI with four victories. Gordon earned Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent victory at the road course when he won the 2001 event.
SEASON-TO-DATE: In the first 21 Cup races of the season, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have tallied six victories (Johnson with four and Kasey Kahne with two) and nine runner-up results (Kahne has three, while Earnhardt, Johnson and Gordon have two apiece). The Hendrick Motorsports teammates rank inside the top 10 in the driver standings. Johnson is first, followed by fifth-place Earnhardt, eighth-place Kahne and ninth-place Gordon.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS (ON WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL.): “At Watkins Glen, we’ve got long straightaways and then a 90-degree corner, then a straightaway and another corner. If you make a mistake in a corner, you still can reset the car and get everything figured out to make something out of the rest of the lap. Even sometimes you can do well enough to make up for your mistake and still put down a good time. It is fast there. The tough part is in the chicane and through the carousel. I don’t know if I go through that thing the same way twice, but you try to go through it as fast as you can.”