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Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Texas

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 4/10/2013
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EVENT: NRA Texas 500
TRACK: Texas Motor Speedway
LENGTH: 1.5-mile quad-oval
DATE: Saturday, April 13, 2013
TV: Fox (Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET)
RADIO: PRN (Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

POINTS REPORT: Six races into the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ranks third in the driver standings on the strength of three top-five finishes and five top-10s. He trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 12 points.

POLE POSITION: Earnhardt’s two pole positions at Texas are tied for first as career-bests for the 38-year-old driver. Earnhardt earned the top starting spot at the Lone Star State track in April 2001 and in April 2008, his first pole with Hendrick Motorsports. He also has two pole positions at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.

FIRST WINS: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, earned his first career Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway. He was just seven races into his rookie season when he recorded his first Cup win on April 2, 2000, at the Fort Worth racetrack. Then age 25, Earnhardt started the race fourth and led 106 laps on his way to Victory Lane. He recorded his first career win in the Nationwide Series on April 4, 1998.

EARNHARDT AT TEXAS: In 21 Sprint Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, two pole positions, three top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He has an average starting position of 11.8, which is his second-best at all tracks, and he has led at least one lap in 13 of those starts for a total of 448 laps.

LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks second among drivers in laps run in the top 15 at Texas. During the last 16 races there, the Kannapolis, N.C., native has spent 76.7 percent of the events (4,106 laps of 5,355 total) running in the top 15. Earnhardt also ranks fourth in the average running position category with an 11.5 average spot.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt’s driver rating at Texas is 92.7, which ranks him eighth among drivers in the last 16 races at the 1.5-mile oval. 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.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend at Texas, crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-726. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in November 2012.

TEXAS DOUBLE: In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet, Earnhardt will pilot JR Motorsports' No. 88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday. In five Nationwide starts at Texas, Earnhardt has one win, one top-five finish and three top-10s. This marks Earnhardt's third Nationwide start of the season. Most recently, he drove the No. 88 Chevrolet to a 14th-place finish in the Nationwide event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month.

HENDRICK AT TEXAS: In 24 races (97 starts) at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has four wins, 23 top-five finishes and 42 top-10s. Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane for the organization in November 2012 after starting from the pole position. Johnson ranks tied for second with nine top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and a 9.3 average finish among drivers all-time at Texas. Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt rank tied for first all-time with two pole positions.

SEASON-TO-DATE: Hendrick Motorsports quartet of drivers ranks inside the top 10 in several season-to-date categories, notably including average running position, driver rating and laps led. Johnson leads all three categories with a 6.296 average running position; 116.5 driver rating and 430 laps led. Earnhardt has the fifth-best average running position (11.099), while Kasey Kahne’s ranks seventh (11.686). Gordon’s average running position of 12.451 is eighth-best among Cup competitors this season.

LAP LEADERS: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 40 percent of the 1,983 laps run this season with Johnson tallying the most (430 laps led). Kahne ranks fourth with 223 laps led, while Gordon is eighth after pacing the field for 97 circuits in the first six Cup races this season. Earnhardt’s 47 laps led rank him 10th.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. local time at the No. 88 transporter in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage Texas Motor Speedway.

Quotes

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON TEXAS.): “I enjoy racing at Texas. It’s a mile and a half, like a lot of tracks we run on in the series, but this track has got some oddities to it that make it different than most of the other 1.5-mile tracks. The exits, to Turn 2 especially, are a real challenge. And the bumps and stuff are pretty challenging on the bottom of both corners. The entry to (Turn) 1 is always a lot of fun. It’s really fast and just trying to get the car through the middle is a challenge there. Texas is a unique place.”

Standings
After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +3 Kevin Harvick 5043 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 5042 -1
3 -2 Denny Hamlin 5037 -6
4 -2 Joey Logano 5028 -15
5 -- Brad Keselowski 2361 -2682
6 -- Jeff Gordon 2348 -2695
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2334 -2709
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Carl Edwards 2288 -2755
10 -2 Kyle Busch 2285 -2758
11 +2 Jimmie Johnson 2274 -2769
12 +2 Kurt Busch 2263 -2780
Full Standings