Atlanta: Dale Earnhardt Jr. preview

AT ATLANTA: In 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored one win, one pole position, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. The 35-year-old driver has an average finishing position of 11.9 and has...

AT ATLANTA: In 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored one win, one pole position, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. The 35-year-old driver has an average finishing position of 11.9 and has completed 99.4 percent of all laps he's attempted (6,716 of 6,757 total). He has led 633 laps at the 1.54-mile oval.

POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, improved one position to 15th in the Sprint Cup standings after finishing 16th last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He trails 12th-place Kyle Busch by 18 points.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-584. This is a brand new chassis that has not been raced or tested.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt is ranked fourth in the driver rating category at Atlanta with a score of 99.8. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, 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 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.

TOP FIVES: Earnhardt's eight top-five Sprint Cup finishes at Atlanta match his personal best at a track. He also has eight top-fives at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

GEORGIA NATIVE: Shock specialist Chris Golder was born in Alpharetta, Ga., a town roughly 35 minutes north of Atlanta. After graduating from high school in 1999, he raced in a pro-truck series at Lanier National Speedway in nearby Braselton, Ga. Golder went on to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and has worked at Hendrick Motorsports since June 2004.

HENDRICK AT ATLANTA: Hendrick Motorsports owns 10 wins, 47 top-five finishes and 73 top-10s in 52 events (163 starts) at Atlanta. Rick Hendrick is the winningest owner at the 1.54-mile oval, leading Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing teams, which have nine wins apiece.

HENDRICK MILESTONE: With Jimmie Johnson's win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports now has 190 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, which is the most in the modern era and second all-time.

VICTORY JUNCTION: Earnhardt will donate $1 million to build and maintain The Dale Jr. Corral and Amphitheatre at the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., which offers experiences for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illness. Members of Dale Jr.'s Official Fan Club can register for the chance to join Earnhardt on March 27 at Victory Junction, when he kicks off The Dale Jr. Foundation Physical Disabilities Weekend.

***

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON ATLANTA.): "We've always run pretty good at Atlanta, so I look forward to going there. It's a wide track, and it gets slick. Atlanta is a driver's track -- if one groove doesn't work, then you can find another one. It's a fun track, and it's a fast track."

LANCE McGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON WHY EARNHARDT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL AT ATLANTA.): "I think because the place is really wide, and there are multiple grooves. He generally likes to run the high line, and it's usually pretty fast. People that like to hunt around like Atlanta. Generally there is some place that you can make your car work there. It may be the bottom, it may be the top, it may be the middle or a combination. There are just a million different combinations, and he seems to enjoy finding the right one."

McGREW (ON PREPARING FOR ATLANTA.): "It's just a really, really fast racetrack, and you have to have good aero balance. The car needs to be able to work multiple grooves. It's a place that's been historically rough on equipment because it's rough and old so there are lots of things to consider -- it's not just one thing."

-source: hm

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing