A decade has passed since the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet driver’s last win at 'Dega
At one point in time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. dominated Talladega Superspeedway in such a way that only one word could describe him: Untouchable.
From 2001-04, Earnhardt rattled off a track-record four consecutive victories, followed by two straight runner-up finishes and a fifth checkered flag.
A decade has passed since the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet driver’s last win at 'Dega (Oct. 3, 2004). Still, his five visits to Victory Lane rank third on the track’s all-time list.
We will take a rocket to Dega and fight till the end.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Currently sitting at 12th in the standings - 26 points behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne for the final Eliminator Round spot - Earnhardt will need to rekindle some of his old Talladega magic in Sunday’s GEICO 500 cutoff race (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). Barring epic collapses from at least four drivers in front of him - a distinct possibility at the 2.66-mile restrictor plate track known for its treachery – he must win Sunday to move onward in the Chase.
Earnhardt is fully aware of his mission at Talladega.
“Go out there and win it,” he said. “We can do it; we have won there a lot of times. I know what we need to do. We will just have to build a fast car and hope that we don’t have any gremlins and try to go out there and win it.”
NASCAR’s 11-time most popular driver has still performed well throughout his 19-race 'Dega drought. He has recorded a respectable six top-10 finishes, including two runner-ups, the most recent in last fall’s Talladega tussle. Earnhardt also boasts the third-highest driver rating (90.3) at the Alabama track over that stretch.
A rejuvenated Junior has proven anything can happen this year. His three victories so far in the 2014 campaign outnumber his win total from the last seven seasons combined.
"The season isn’t over though,” Earnhardt posted on Twitter after Charlotte. “We will take a rocket to Dega and fight till the end. 110% till the checkered at Homestead.”
NASCAR Wire Service