BUSCH: Earnhardt Jr. NHIS Preview

Earnhardt Jr. has a New Hampshire precedent LOUDON, N.H. (May 7, 1998) Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have never raced on the flat, fast "Magic Mile" at New Hampshire International Speedway, but when he rolls out for practice Friday...

   Earnhardt Jr. has a New Hampshire precedent
   
   LOUDON, N.H. (May 7, 1998)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have never raced on the flat, fast "Magic Mile" at New Hampshire International Speedway, but when he rolls out for practice Friday morning for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Gumout Long Life Formula 200, he will have some precedent for a good finish.

It will be young Earnhardt's seventh trip to a speedway one-mile or longer this season, and he's quickly setting an impressive record for himself and the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet team. In six races on superspeedways, he has started third, sixth, eighth, 37th, 16th and fourth. He has finished in the top-10 four times, including his first win in the Coca-Cola 300 at Texas Motor Speedway and two second-place finishes -- at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

"This will be the first time I have raced in New Hampshire, but it's not the first for this ACDelco team," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Their success here goes back as far as the days when my dad drove this car."

Steve Park, who drove the No. 3 a year ago, qualified eighth but finished quite a bit better thanks to crew chief Tony Eury's expertise in the pits.

"Last year this ACDelco team didn't lead any laps but they were second when the checkered flag fell," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Needless to say, this team has some success here. It seems like when they are ready, it just helps me be that much further ahead of the game. So, if last year is any indication for this year, we should be in pretty good shape.

"What's really incredible is guys like Steve Park, Randy LaJoie and Mike McLaughlin have been so much help to me this year. And they are the guys that probably have more laps at Loudon than any of the drivers racing today.

"With all the resources we have, it definitely off sets my lack of experience at New Hampshire International Speedway."

Earnhardt needs to bounce out of a "mini slump" that knocked him out of the NASCAR Busch Series point lead. In his ninth race of the season at Talladega Superspeedway two weekends ago, Earnhardt, Jr. started fourth in the Touchstone Energy 300 and ended his day early on lap 43 of the 113-lap race due to a multi-car accident.

Earnhardt, Jr. has continued to stay in the top-five in the standings. He is currently ranked third, only 44 points behind first place Matt Kenseth.

Earnhardt Jr. is only the latest driver to be coached to success by the veteran ACDelco team. Since Dale Earnhardt retired as driver of his NASCAR Busch Series car, his team has coached three rookie drivers to success, two of which have stepped up to the ranks of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. The latest driver to join the Earnhardt team, led by 15-year veteran Eury, is his own son.

In the same nine-race period, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s drivers scored the following stats. In 1996, Jeff Green logged four top-five starts, including two Bud Poles; four top-10 starts; three top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes. He had no wins.

In 1997, Park had one top-five and two top-10 starts, but scored three top-five and six top-10 finishes, including one victory.

In 1998, Earnhardt Jr. has three top-five and six top-10 starts, including one Bud Pole; and four top-five and six top-10 finishes, including a victory.

   Coincidence? Probably not.
   
   Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Steve Park , Jeff Green , Mike McLaughlin