Las Vegas: Dale Earnhardt Jr. preview

AT LAS VEGAS: In 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored two top-five finishes and four top-10s and led 162 laps. Earnhardt tied his career-best second-place finish in 2008 after leading 17...

AT LAS VEGAS: In 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored two top-five finishes and four top-10s and led 162 laps. Earnhardt tied his career-best second-place finish in 2008 after leading 17 laps at the 1.5-mile racetrack. Earnhardt originally posted a runner-up finish at the track in 2003.

POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, currently ranks 16th in the Sprint Cup Series championship standings. He trails leader Kevin Harvick by 89 points.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-556, which is the first chassis McGrew built from scratch for Earnhardt. This chassis, which Earnhardt debuted in 2009 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was used last at Texas Motor Speedway in November. Earnhardt was running sixth before a late-race fuel gamble resulted in a 25th-place finish.

ROOKIE STRIPE: This will be McGrew's first Las Vegas Motor Speedway race as the crew chief of the No. 88 Chevy, but he has experience leading a team at the 1.5-mile oval. In 2008, McGrew filled in as crew chief for the No. 5 JR Motorsports team for six NASCAR Nationwide Series events, including the March race at Las Vegas where he coached driver Mark Martin to Victory Lane. Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is the final track on the schedule where McGrew has yet to sit atop the No. 88 pitbox.

HAULER PARADE: Team transporter drivers Dave Radney and Rich Pickrell will participate in the NASCAR hauler parade on the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday. Starting at 6 p.m. local time, the NASCAR team haulers will drive north on the Strip, past some of the world's most well-known hotels and casinos.

HENDRICK AT LAS VEGAS: Hendrick Motorsports has scored four wins, 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 12 events (46 starts) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

*****

NATIONAL GUARD YOUTH CHALLENGE: Earnhardt and team owner Rick Hendrick will attend the National Guard's Youth ChalleNGe dinner Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The mission of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth to produce program graduates with the values, skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as adults. The dinner recognizes the Youth ChalleNGe Cadets on their hard work and dedication to the program.

*****

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON LAS VEGAS.): "The track is a lot of fun. They reconfigured the banking (for the 2007 season), and it's faster. I enjoy running around there. It's a lot different than it used to be, and it's a pretty unique track. It's definitely a lot more fun since they reconfigured it."

LANCE McGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON THE TEAM'S MILE-AND-A-HALF PROGRAM.): "It's such a big part of what you do. There are so many mile-and-a-half tracks compared to the short tracks. They make such a big part of the first 26 races of the season. Your program has to be strong because you can't sacrifice there and say, 'I'm going to focus on my short track program.' You can't sacrifice any part of your game and be successful. I hope to have a strong run at Vegas. I haven't been to Vegas with Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) so it's going to be a little bit of learning curve. We were really good at Texas last year, and I think we have made some improvements over the off-season to our mile-and-a-half program so I'm excited to get to the track."

McGREW (ON RACING AT VEGAS FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH THE NO. 88 TEAM.): "Until you have been with him at least one time, then you don't have that notebook to go to. You can't go to your driver and say, 'We did this last time, and you really liked this or didn't like this.' Sometimes you have to go through a couple of extra hurdles along the way. As our communication has got better and better, that has been easier to deal with. So I don't think it will be that big of a deal."

McGREW (ON WHAT IT TAKES TO BE GOOD AT VEGAS.): "It's not just one thing. On all of these mile-and-a-half tracks it comes down to who can hold the throttle down the longest through the corner and make the straightaways as long as you can because everyone has good horsepower. Everybody has the same aerodynamic with this car so it's about making the chassis work and getting the driver comfortable to where he can mash the gas."

-source: hm

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kevin Harvick , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , JR Motorsports