Talladega: Dale Earnhard Jr. preview

TALLADEGA TALLY: In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt has scored five wins, eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He scored a record-setting four consecutive wins at the 2.66-mile oval from October 2001 to April...

TALLADEGA TALLY: In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt has scored five wins, eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He scored a record-setting four consecutive wins at the 2.66-mile oval from October 2001 to April 2003.

LEADING LAPS: Earnhardt has led all but two of the 20 Sprint Cup races he has entered at Talladega for a total of 664 laps. He has led more career laps at only two other venues: short tracks Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (758) and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (743).

POINTS POSITION: With his eighth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt advanced three positions to seventh in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He trails leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson by 235 points, but is only 15 points away from teammate Jeff Gordon, who ranks fifth.

HENDRICK HISTORY: For the first time in the organization's history, Hendrick Motorsports has four drivers ranked in the top 10 in the Sprint Cup championship standings. After Monday's race at Texas, Johnson leads the group in first, while Gordon is fifth, Earnhardt is seventh and Mark Martin is 10th. Hendrick Motorsports expanded to a four-car team in 2002.

TALLADEGA SUCCESS: Earnhardt's five wins at Talladega are the most for him at any track and rank him third all-time among drivers at the Alabama oval. Earnhardt's father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., leads with 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon has recorded six.

IN THIS RACE: Earnhardt never has finished worse than 10th driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the spring race at Talladega. Last year, Earnhardt took runner-up honors and, in 2008, he crossed the finish line 10th at the superspeedway.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-575. This is a brand new chassis that was used as a backup car for the Daytona 500 in February. The team tested this chassis at the open NASCAR test at Talladega last month.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt is third in the driver rating category at Talladega with a 92.2 score. The driver rating is a formula that combines the following categories: wins, finishes, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum points a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY.): "When you show up, whatever you unload, that's what you are going to have all weekend. There's not a lot that you can do to the car to improve it. NASCAR has a lot of rules with the cars at Talladega and Daytona, where you can't do a lot of changes in the back of the car to get the car to handle good. However it unloads is about as fast as it is going to get. Hopefully we brought a bullet."

LANCE McGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON STRATEGY AT TALLADEGA.): "Dale's not the kind of guy that wants to ride around the back. Our intent is to lead every lap and try to stay out of trouble in the front. I don't think anyone has more conviction to getting what he wants than Dale Jr. A lot of people might believe that being in the back would be the safe way to go. If the big one is going to happen, it's going to happen. We definitely have a race car from the test that can go down there and lead and be out front. That's our intention."

McGREW (ON HOW THE CAR AND DRIVER RANK AT TALLADEGA.): "You definitely have to have a good car but the best car is not going to do anything without the driver putting it in the right position. That's where Dale Jr. shines when it comes to superspeedways. He knows how to put the car in the right position to help himself."

McGREW (ON TALLADEGA VERSUS DAYTONA.): "There is just a night-and-day difference. There is absolutely zero handling involved at Talladega -- it's all speed. Your car will handle the same 20 laps into a run as it will on the first lap."

-source: hm

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports