Winning as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader has yet to happen in 2013. That may change on Sunday, despite Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s failure to post a victory in 26 previous visits to Martinsville Speedway.
No. 1-ranked Earnhardt has statistics – and momentum – on his side.
Martinsville is Junior’s best track in terms of Driver Rating (99.8) and laps led (868). His resume shows the track as being tied for best in top fives (10) and second best in top 10s (14), one shy of Daytona International Speedway’s 15.
Earnhardt finished third in last spring’s Martinsville race. Since becoming the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 2008, Junior has posted seven top 10s, including a pair of seconds.
Earnhardt has four short-track victories among his 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins – three at Richmond and one at Bristol.
Momentum is Earnhardt’s hole card – and possibly the most important asset as he seeks his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Junior has come out of the gate in unprecedented fashion – five top 10s including second-place finishes at Daytona and at California’s Auto Club Speedway. His average finish of 4.4 leads all competitors.
Earnhardt leads the series in Green Flag Passes (588) and most Quality Passes (354).
Jimmie Johnson was the last competitor to post a victory as the points leader, winning November’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.