Dale Jr. cleared to compete at Talladega NASCAR has approved Dale Earnhardt Jr. to compete in this weekend's EA Sports 500 at Talladega, Ala., where he has won a record four consecutive races. Earnhardt Jr. suffered a minor concussion and ...
Dale Jr. cleared to compete at Talladega
NASCAR has approved Dale Earnhardt Jr. to compete in this weekend's EA Sports 500 at Talladega, Ala., where he has won a record four consecutive races. Earnhardt Jr. suffered a minor concussion and a sprained right foot in a crash during last Sunday's race at Dover, Del. He was examined Monday afternoon by Dr. Jerry Petty, and based upon the results of that exam, has been cleared medically to compete.
Dale Jr. Quotes:
"My foot gets a lot better every day. I usually use all of this ice to keep the Budweiser cold, but I've stayed off my feet, kept ice on it, and the swelling and soreness is much less than it was on Monday. It would take a heckuva lot more than this to keep me out of the race. Plus, Talladega is about intense mental focus - it's not a physical track like Bristol or Martinsville where your body takes a beating. I drove a Busch Series race with only one arm (he suffered a broken collarbone in practice at Milwaukee, Wis., but drove the following day to a third-place finish in July, 1999), so I'm sure once I get in the car, this won't have an impact on me. I've been to the shop a few times, and the guys are making sure I'm comfortable in the car, so we will be ready to go."
"I love going to Talladega, and I've had the luxury to wheel a really, really fast car there every time. Our success shows the strength of the entire Dale Earnhardt Inc. organization. We have always focused on the restrictor-plate races, from Richie Gilmore's engines to the guys who work on the bodies hour-after-hour in the wind tunnel and in the shop, and it's a total effort.
"It's very, very simple: get to the front and stay there. You don't worry about all of the action behind you if you're ahead of 'em. Because we changed an engine in April, we started at the back. Being involved in the early crash (on lap four), even slightly, was more evidence to prove that strategy. It didn't look too good, but my guys worked on the car until it was competitive again. It may have been my most gratifying Talladega win. It was very satisfying, because it took the entire team to get me into a position to drive that car to the finish line."
'Drive for Five' Notes:
-- Dale Jr. can become the first driver to sweep both Talladega races in two consecutive seasons. The sweep has happened six times, but only Dale Jr's father, Dale Earnhardt, did it more than once (1990 and 1999). Recent trends look good for Dale Jr.: the last two Winston Cup races have produced season-sweeps (Jimmy Johnson at Loudon and Ryan Newman at Dover).
-- In only seven starts, Dale Jr. is tied for second in career Winston Cup victories at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Darrell Waltrip and Buddy Baker also won four races. It will take Dale Jr. a few more years to challenge his father's record of 10 victories at Talladega.