Earnhardt Jr poised for Martinsville event

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (February 17, 2004) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is back on top of the superspeedway world after sweeping through Daytona International Speedway last weekend, winning everything in sight. Often overshadowed by Earnhardt's speedway ...

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (February 17, 2004) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is back on top of the superspeedway world after sweeping through Daytona International Speedway last weekend, winning everything in sight.

Often overshadowed by Earnhardt's speedway dominance though, is his steady short-track improvement over the past couple of seasons, especially at Martinsville Speedway.

Jeff Gordon swept both NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events at Martinsville last year. But it is Earnhardt who brings the best average finish over the past two seasons into the April 18th running of the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville. He was fourth last fall in the SUBWAY 500 after finishing third in the spring. In 2002, he finished fifth in the spring and fourth in the fall for an average finish of fourth over the two seasons.

After struggling at Martinsville his first couple of seasons, Earnhardt quickly began to find his way around the tough, historic track. By the end of last fall's SUBWAY 500, he was absolutely giddy.

"I love this racetrack," Earnhardt said after finishing fourth in the fall. "It's fun as hell, but damn, it'll wear you out."

Earnhardt's fall run was just a continuation of his spring 2003 success at Martinsville. He recorded his best-ever Martinsville finish, third, in the spring after leading on three different occasions for 195 laps.

Earnhardt's Budweiser team is the only one to finish in the top five the past four Martinsville events, a statistic he's well aware of.

"That's the most we've ever led here and my guys have really built a great car for me to drive at this ol' place," Earnhardt said after last spring's event. "We were the only team to get two top-five finishes here last year (2002), so we were really focused on continuing that streak."

But Earnhardt knows it's easy to have Martinsville success come to a grinding halt.

"It's a tough track and you really have to be 'on' for 500 laps to avoid getting the car beat up," said Earnhardt. "You can come in with all the confidence in the world, but it takes almost no time to be taken out of the race."

Tickets for both the Advance Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 18, and the Kroger 250, on Saturday, April 17, are on sale and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Martinsville Speedway's ticket office is now open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday; and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Advance Auto Parts 500 tickets may also be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com

Ticket prices for the Advance Auto Parts 500 range from $40 to $75.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon