Bristol: Dale Earnhardt Jr. preview

AT BRISTOL: In 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored one win, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. The 35-year-old driver has completed 98.5 percent of all laps he's attempted (9,865...

AT BRISTOL: In 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored one win, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. The 35-year-old driver has completed 98.5 percent of all laps he's attempted (9,865 of 10,013 total). He has led 743 laps at the .533-mile oval.

PERSONAL BESTS: Earnhardt's 11.6 average finish at Bristol is a personal best for the driver in the Sprint Cup Series. Also, his 11 top-10 finishes at Bristol match his personal best at a track. He has 11 top-10s at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

POINTS REPORT: For the second week in a row, Earnhardt has improved in the Sprint Cup standings. After finishing 15th at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he advances two spots to 13th. After four races in the 2010 season, he trails 12th-place Scott Speed by seven points, 10th-place Kurt Busch by 27 points and fifth-place Clint Bowyer by 83 points.

STRONG HENDRICK START: After four 2010 races, each of the four Hendrick Motorsports teams are ranked within the top 13 in the Sprint Cup standings, marking a first for the organization at this point in the season. At 8.75, the team also holds its second-best average points position after four races since expanding to four cars in 2002. In 2006, Hendrick Motorsports had four cars in the top 14 with an average standing of 7.25.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-556, which first was raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year and is the first chassis that McGrew built from scratch for Earnhardt. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a 16th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February.

HENDRICK AT BRISTOL: Hendrick Motorsports has eight wins, 40 top-five finishes, 73 top-10s and 10 pole positions in 52 events (159 starts) at Bristol. Mark Martin earned the team's most recent pole position there last August.

TOP-10 TURNAROUND: Hendrick Motorsports posted strong results following the three events last season where its cars did not record at least one top-10 finish. In 2009, Hendrick cars did not score a top-10 in the Daytona 500, the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway or at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. In the races immediately after, Jeff Gordon finished second at Fontana, Calif., Jimmie Johnson won at Dover, Del., and Gordon was the runner-up at Brooklyn, Mich.

TALLADEGA TEST: Earnhardt will test Talladega Superspeedway on Tuesday in preparation for the April 25 race there. The No. 88 crew will be joined in the open session by its Nos. 5, 24 and 48 Hendrick Motorsports teammates and other Sprint Cup cars.


DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON BRISTOL.): "Bristol is a pretty physically demanding track, but we've always been pretty good there. I like running there. It's tough to qualify, but it's important to have a good pit stall selection. You want to have that front straightaway pit. Bristol is a tough track. I got to go there when I was growing up, and I always look forward to going back."

LANCE McGREW, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON THE NEW SAFER BARRIERS AT BRISTOL, WHICH WILL ELIMINATE SOME OF THE RACING SURFACE IN TURNS 2 AND 4.): "Adjusting to that is going to be different. Normally I would go to Bristol in qualifying trim for the first practice because qualifying there is so important. But the new barriers made me think enough about the line, the difference in coming off the corner and how you have to approach that, so we'll probably go in race trim. I want to let Dale run 10 or 15 laps until he feels comfortable, and then we'll switch over to qualifying trim."

McGREW (ON QUALIFYING WELL AT BRISTOL.): "It's huge because there is really only four good pit stalls in the place, period. If you're not in the top four then everyone is in the same boat. Past that, it's all luck if you have a start-and-park next to you or someone who might have problems in the pit. It can make or break your night because it doesn't matter how good your pit crew is if you can't get in or out of your pit stall. The track position is everything there."

McGREW (ON THE TALLADEGA TEST.): "I think it's more about how the spoiler is going to react on the superspeedways and if the cars are going to draft any different or handle any different. You probably aren't going to learn a lot of handling stuff there, unfortunately, because there is not handling to it compared to Daytona. It's really more of a learning venture for NASCAR because we are going there with four different rear gear selections and 10 different restrictor-plate sizes to help work on the package."

-source: hendrick motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Speed , Clint Bowyer , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports