NSCS Bristol Preview: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
AT BRISTOL: In 16 starts at the half-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has one win, six top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He has led 743 laps and has an average finish of 11.7. Earnhardt's win came on Aug. 28, 2004 when he led 295 of the 500 laps after starting from the 30th position. He finished seventh in this race one year ago.
STRONG START: With two top-five finishes and three top-10s, Earnhardt is sixth in theÂ driver standings andÂ off to the second-bestÂ start of hisÂ Sprint Cup career.Â Â He made his best start in 2004 when he opened the season by winning the Daytona 500. That year,Â Earnhardt also wonÂ the 500-mile event at Atlanta Motor Speedway and notched a fifth-place finish at North Carolina SpeedwayÂ toÂ kick offÂ the season with three top-fiveÂ resultsÂ in the first four races. EarnhardtÂ was third in the standings at this point in 2004.
BRISTOL CHASSIS: Tony Eury Jr. and the No. 88 team will run Chassis No. 88-421 this weekend at Bristol. In 2007, Hendrick Motorsports tested thisÂ Impala SSÂ at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Kentucky Speedway and at the road course of Virginia International Raceway.Â Â Casey Mears raced the car at Phoenix International Raceway and RichmondÂ last year.
STILL STREAKING: Hendrick Motorsports' streak of top-10 finishes improved to 69 Sprint Cup races after last week's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway when Earnhardt took third and Jeff Gordon was fifth. The last time a Hendrick driver wasn't in the top 10 was April 9, 2006. Finishing 11th, Jimmie Johnson was Hendrick's top performer that day at Texas Motor Speedway.
HENDRICK AT BRISTOL: The last time a Hendrick Motorsports car failed to produce a top-10 result at Bristol happened on Aug. 26, 2000. At the time, the organization was a three-car team with Gordon, Terry Labonte and Jerry Nadeau. That is a streak of 15 races with a Hendrick car in the top 10. Since 1986, when Hendrick became a multi-car team, the organization has recorded a top-10 finish in all but five of the 44 Bristol races.
GOING GREEN: AMP Energy wants to see how fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. are "going green" this season. Fans can win a chance to go to the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October and meet Earnhardt by showing AMP Energy how JR Nation is going green. Log onto www.AMPEnergy.com for more information or to submit photos or videos.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON THE EXCITEMENT OF BRISTOL.): "I always got to go to Bristol growing up, and it was one of the more fun tracks. I got to see a lot of crashes and was able to walk through the garage and see the cars all mangled."
EARNHARDT (ON HIS SKILL AS A DRIVER AT BRISTOL.) "I didn't think I'd be very good at that track. When we started out, I just tried to be patient. It helped me to start out that way. I was able to run the first couple of races and finish well there. I just kind of kept that same motto -- stay real cool, calm, not to go over the top. It's a fun track."
EARNHARDT (ON THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALIFYING POSITION.): "You want to be on the front straightaway pit and try to do the best you can to get that opportunity. But it is what it is. It's tough to qualify there. I don't put a lot of pressure on myself to make it happen."
EARNHARDT (ON HIS ACC ALLEGIENCE GIVEN THE CONFERENCE'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT IS IN CHARLOTTE, N.C., THIS WEEK.): "I'm a Tar Heel fan, so I'll watch them."
EARNHARDT (ON HIS PLANS FOR THE OFF-WEEKEND.): "I'll probably just stay home; try to do things around the house."
TONY EURY JR., CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON BRISTOL.): "It's a tough little race track. There's no doubt it's a total concentration weekend. You can't afford to get behind at Bristol -- you do and you're done."
T.J. MAJORS, SPOTTER OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET: (ON SPOTTING AT BRISTOL.): "It's hard. There is just so much going on during the entire race. I try to watch about three-quarters of the track ahead of Junior so I can give him as much notice as possible if something is happening and enough time so that he doesn't lock up the brakes and get hit from behind. I have a hand-held Sprint FanView with me so I know who we're racing as well as who is on the lead lap. It can get confusing with 43 cars stuffed into that little space. Sometimes guys race so hard to get their laps back; sometimes they let the leaders go and race their own race. It's a crazy weekend."