Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been outspoken about how well the Gen-6 Chevrolet SS fits his driving style.
Little wonder that Earnhardt is off to the second-best start of his NSCS career. With second- and fifth-place finishes in the 2013 season’s opening races, Junior is second in the standings, eight points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. That’s just behind Earnhardt’s best start. In 2004, he won the Daytona 500 and followed up with a fifth-place performance at North Carolina Motor Speedway to hold the series points lead.
“This is a good sign for us … that we’ve improved this much at Phoenix,” said Earnhardt, who led 47 laps after starting 21st. “Hopefully, it’s a sign for the rest of the season and that we’re going to be all right.”
Earnhardt is slated to do double duty this weekend, also entering his No. 88 Chevrolet in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam’s Town 300. He has yet to win in either division at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The offseason has done little to turn down the heat on last year’s Johnson-Brad Keselowski rivalry. The two battled each other for the title down to the season’s final laps. They’ve raced side-by-side in decision time at both Daytona and Phoenix.
Johnson has a decisive statistical edge in Las Vegas. He’s the leading winner with four victories. Three of those wins came during championship seasons, most recently in 2010. Johnson’s Driver Rating of 110.9 leads all competitors. Keselowski has yet to post a top-10 in four Las Vegas appearances.