Onlookers have often billed Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a restrictor plate expert – and a runner-up finish at Talladega on Sunday didn’t dispute that claim.
But maybe he doesn’t get the credit he deserves in the field of finesse. When it comes to braking and gassing and beating and banging, few can match wits with Earnhardt – especially at Martinsville.
Earnhardt has adapted to Martinsville’s unique layout throughout his career, so much so that the paper clip has statistically become his best track.
In terms of Driver Rating, where he boasts a mark of 98.8, Martinsville ranks first for Earnhardt. It’s one of three tracks at which Earnhardt surpasses a Driver Rating of 95 (the others are Michigan at 97.0 and New Hampshire a 97.3).
In terms of average finish – Martinsville ranks third for Earnhardt at 13.4. Only Bristol (11.5) and Atlanta (12.3) rank better.
Of course, there’s one hole on the Martinsville stat sheet – he has yet to win. But that seemingly will come sooner than later. Four of his last six finishes were in the top 10, including a runner-up in April of 2011.