Talladega: Round nine preview

* Dale Earnhardt Jr. Says Negotiations Going Well * Last-Lap Look-Back; Last 3 'Dega Races Down To Wire * Gordon Gets On The 'Chase Bonus Board' * Winless in '07, Stewart Also Winless at Talladega Earnhardt: Nothing New On Contract DAYTONA ...

* Dale Earnhardt Jr. Says Negotiations Going Well
* Last-Lap Look-Back; Last 3 'Dega Races Down To Wire
* Gordon Gets On The 'Chase Bonus Board'
* Winless in '07, Stewart Also Winless at Talladega

Earnhardt: Nothing New On Contract

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 24, 2007) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a guest Tuesday on the weekly NASCAR teleconference, but had nothing new to announce regarding his contract negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Inc.

"I'm pretty excited that things are going to be fine, and work out with our negotiations," he said.

Also from Earnhardt:

• "When we won four in a row at Talladega [from 2001-03] we just had the dominant car."

• "I liked seeing Jeff Gordon win [at Phoenix]. When he honored my father [by waving the No. 3 flag] it was really cool."

• "I can beat anybody at Talladega, you kidding? Give me a decent car, I can take it and run up front."

Last-Lap 'Dega Drama -- Expect It

The last three Talladega Superspeedway races have been decided by last-lap passes.

• In October 2005, Dale Jarrett passed Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman on the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish, just before a caution came out.

• In the spring of 2006, Jimmie Johnson passed Brian Vickers in Turn 4 of Lap 188.

• Last October, Vickers scooted by Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as those two wrecked.

Also, three of the last five races at 'Dega have had miniscule margins of victory:

• .120-second, spring/2006;
• .183-second, spring/2005;
• .117-second, fall/2004.

Chase 'Seeding' Watch, Week 9: Gordon On The Bonus Board

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) got his first victory of the season this past Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway. More importantly -- given the increased emphasis on winning that's now inherent in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series -- he earned a potential 10-point bonus, awarded if he qualifies for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Starting this season, Chase qualifiers get 10 bonus points for each victory during the 26-race span leading up to the Chase, which consists of the last 10 races.

Drivers qualifying for the Chase have their point totals "reset" to 5,000, whereupon bonus points are added, in effect creating a "seeding" to start the Chase.

Example: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), who has three victories thus far this season, would start the Chase with 5,030 points.

Gordon -- who tied Dale Earnhardt for sixth place on the all-time win list (76) with the PIR win -- would start the Chase tied for second place at 5,010 with this season's three other race winners -- Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet) and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet).

Double Puzzle: Winless This Season, Stewart Also Winless At Talladega

Tony Stewart (No 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet), remarkably, has yet to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race this season.

Even more remarkable: The two-time series champion, arguably the most talented, versatile race car driver in the world, has never won at Talladega Superspeedway.

There are some coincidental statistics to note. Stewart has two runner-up finishes this season. At Talladega, he has finished second six times, which yields this dubious distinction: Stewart is tied with Bobby Allison (at Martinsville Speedway) and Mark Martin (at Pocono Raceway) for the most runner-up finishes without a victory at a track currently involved in the series.

Stewart comes into Talladega seventh in the series point standings, and he has to feel good about his chances of moving up -- and breaking both of his winless streaks.

In 16 Talladega races he has 10 top-10 runs and an average finish of 11.938. He has led laps in 10 races, for a total of 138 laps. His Driver Rating at Talladega (based on the previous two seasons' compilation worth of Loop Data) is 96.3 -- fifth-best in the series.

And don't forget this footnote: He finished second in last year's Aaron's 499.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Brian Vickers , Bobby Allison , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin