Watkins Glen: Dale Earnhardt Jr. preview

500TH START: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, will make his 500th start in a NASCAR-sanctioned points-paying event this weekend. Earnhardt will be making his 385th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when he...

500TH START: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, will make his 500th start in a NASCAR-sanctioned points-paying event this weekend. Earnhardt will be making his 385th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when he lines up Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He also has tallied 115 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

POINTS AFTER POCONO: Earnhardt holds the 14th position in the championship standings. He trails 12th-place by 129 points with five races remaining until the 12-car field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-514. Earnhardt last raced this car to an 11th-place finish at Infineon Raceway in June.

SWITCHING UP THE PIT STOPS: During Sunday's race, drivers will enter pit road from the opposite direction, which is basically like making a pit stop in reverse for the pit crew. To keep the No. 88 crew operating with the same momentum, pit crew coaches Mark Mauldin and Walt Smith decided to swap the front-tire changer and carrier with the rear-tire changer and carrier. This way, they are approaching the car the same way they usually do. The No. 88 team has devoted practice time during the last several weeks to prepare for the 220-mile event.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON MAKING HIS 500TH START.) "I didn't realize that I was approaching 500. I take a lot of pride in what I've accomplished in these past 15 years or so. I'm proud of the two Nationwide championships, the wins in both series and having worked with a lot of talented people. I like that I'm able to do what I do for a living. I'm passionate about racing and it keeps me from having to get a real job (SMILING)."

LANCE McGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY GUARD CHEVROLET (ON WATKINS GLEN VERSUS INFINEON RACEWAY.): "The tracks are way different. The way Sonoma is laid out, it's very precise and you have to drive it a certain way. It's not a real fast track. I think that he tends to like a faster-type place. It may just be that he likes one better for one particular reason, but he has had way more success at The Glen."

McGREW (ON CALLING A ROAD COURSE RACE.): "Your driver doesn't walk you around every corner on a road course like you would on an oval. It's more fuel mileage and your driver reporting, for instance, 'I'm brake-hoping into here, or I need forward bite into here.' You do what you can do. You are kind of limited because what you do to help a left-handed corner is going to hurt a right-handed corner. You are kind of limited once the race starts and what kind of adjustments you can make that will make a big difference on how the car drives. It normally comes down to speed and strategy."

McGREW (ON BRAKE AND SHOCK PACKAGES.): "Your brake package is very similar to what you bring to the short tracks because you abuse the brakes a lot so you need a lot of cooling, a lot of pad. The brake cooling package is probably the biggest thing. The other thing really is just drive line, it is so easy to miss a gear on an upshift or a downshift or wheel hop it which sends all that torque back through the drive line, back in to the engine, which is hard on the transmissions, the rear axles. So there are a lot of things from a durability standpoint that you sweat a little bit because if you are going to break something then you are probably going to break it there."

-source: hendrick motorsports

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Teams Hendrick Motorsports