Hendrick Motorsports |
EVENT: Aaron's 499
VENUE: Talladega Superspeedway
TUNE IN: Television (12 p.m. ET on Fox) and Radio (12 p.m. ET on MRN). Check local listings.
News & Notes
POINTS REPORT: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, recently picked up his fifth straight top-10 finish, after taking second at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, and now ranks second in the driver standings. Nine races into the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt has earned four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He trails leader Greg Biffle by five points.
A YEAR AGO AT TALLADEGA: In a race that featured 88 lead changes, Earnhardt helped his teammate Jimmie Johnson take over the top spot for the final lap. With Earnhardt pushing him, Johnson posted a .002-second margin of victory, which matches the closest recorded since the inception of electronic scoring. Earnhardt, who started fourth in that race, led 11 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish.
AT TALLADEGA: In 24 Cup starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has recorded five wins, nine top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He scored a record-setting four consecutive wins at the 2.66-mile superspeedway from October 2001 to April 2003.
TALLADEGA SUCCESS: Earnhardt's five wins at Talladega are the most for him at any track and rank him third all-time among drivers at the Alabama oval. Earnhardt's father Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon has recorded six.
LEADING LAPS: Earnhardt Jr. has led in all but two of the 24 Sprint Cup races he has entered at Talladega for a total of 709 laps. He has led a lap in each of his eight starts behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The 37-year-old has led more career laps at only two other venues: short tracks Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (868 laps) and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (745 laps).
TALLADEGA CHASSIS: This weekend at Talladega, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-699. This is the same chassis Earnhardt raced to a second-place finish in February at the 2012 Daytona 500.
SUPERSPEEDWAY STATS: In 49 combined Cup starts on the superspeedways of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega, Earnhardt has recorded seven wins, 18 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s. He has led a total 1,105 laps on NASCAR’s restrictor-plate tracks.
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data, Earnhardt is second in laps run in the top 15 (1,618 of 2,661 total) during the past 14 races at Talladega. Earnhardt is also second in the average running position (14.936) and third in laps led (220 laps) during that same timeframe.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt is second in the driver rating category at Talladega with a 90.2 score. The driver rating is a formula that combines the following categories: wins, finishes, 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 points 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.
DEGA DOUBLE: In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, Earnhardt will pilot JR Motorsports' No. 5 Hellmann's Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. In eight Nationwide Series starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has one win, three top-five finishes and six top-10s. This marks Earnhardt's fourth Nationwide start of the season. Most recently, he drove the No. 5 Chevrolet to a 14th-place finish in the Nationwide event at Texas Motor Speedway last month.
HENDRICK AT TALLADEGA: In 56 events (178 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 45 top-five finishes and 67 top-10s. Seven of the organization’s wins have happened after its drivers started the race ninth or better. In this race last year, Earnhardt pushed Johnson, the race’s outside pole sitter, to Victory Lane.
TOP FOUR: Hendrick Motorsports drivers lined up in the top four spots for the 188-lap Talladega event in April 2011. Gordon, Johnson, Mark Martin and Earnhardt qualified one-two-three-four for the 500-mile event, making Hendrick Motorsports just the third team in Sprint Cup history to qualify in the first four starting positions. This feat previously was accomplished by owner Pete DePaolo in 1956 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Jack Roush in 2005 at Auto Club Speedway. The Hendrick teammates crossed the finish line in the top eight.
APPROACHING 200: In the first nine Cup events of the 2012 season, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned five runner-up results, 10 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s to give the four drivers an average finish of 14.7. Earnhardt and Johnson lead the organization with average finishing spots of 7.3 and 10, respectively. Hendrick Motorsports currently has 199 Cup victories, ranking first in NASCAR’s modern era for wins and second all-time behind Petty Enterprises, which has 268 victories.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET (ON DRAFTING VERSUS TANDEM RACING.): “I feel like the style of racing we had in the Daytona 500 this year suits me better. I feel more confident in that style than I do the tandem. With the tandem, it is difficult to commit to someone all day long. The way we did it in the (2012 Daytona) 500 was nice, but the tandem is going to win the race, which is fine with me. I do like having more control of my destiny and making my own decisions for myself. I want to look out for No. 1 and my team all day long and try to do whatever I can to put myself in position to win the race. That is really what I feel like I have been doing all my life. To do anything different just doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels odd to me.”
STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET (ON TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY.): “We have high expectations anytime with go to a speedway with (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports power. We had a fast car at Daytona (Fla.) and were able to get a win last year with Jimmie (Johnson) at Talladega. We have high expectations going there. We are going to play a little different strategy this year. We are going to try to go out and lead as many laps as we can and be around at the end.”