NSCS Las Vegas Preview: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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AT LAS VEGAS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be making his ninth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Sunday. In his eight previous starts, Earnhardt has led 145 laps and recorded one top-five finish and two top-10s. His best finish was second place, which he achieved March 2, 2003.

GUARD ON THE HOOD: The red, white and blue National Guard/AMP Energy paint scheme will canvas the hood of the No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend in its first Sprint Cup Series points race. Earnhardt drove the design, which features the National Guard on the hood, into Victory Lane during the Budweiser Shootout, a non-points event, at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 9.

VEGAS CHASSIS: Earnhardt will race Chassis No. 88-488, a brand new car, during Sunday's race. The team tested another car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but decided to build a new one for the race based on data accumulated from the test session. The test chassis will serve as the primary backup.

LEADING LAS VEGAS: Rick Hendrick's teams have fared well recently at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet, has won the last three races at the track, while the other three Hendrick teams have combined for an additional five top-five finishes and six top-10s during those events.

PHOENIX TESTING: The No. 88 team will test at Phoenix International Raceway on March 3-4 to prepare for the April 12 Sprint Cup race that will be held at the one-mile flat track in the desert. In 11 starts at Phoenix, Earnhardt has won twice and recorded four top-five finishes and five top-10s. His most recent victory at the track was Nov. 7, 2004.

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 LAST WEEKEND'S RACE AT CALIFORNIA.): "I hate it for my team that we ended up in an early wreck. I know with the rainout and everything, the team had to stay another day just to run 40th all day. But we're here to race, and, believe me, they fixed that wrecked car so good we were running in the top-five on the speed charts with it. It says a lot about my guys, and the dedication they have. I hope we have better luck in Vegas."

TONY EURY JR., CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET (ON THE VEGAS TEST.): "We had a real good test in Vegas last month. We learned a lot about the track and decided that, instead of running the car we tested, to build a new car based on the data we collected (at the test). We're unloading this new car we built blind as a frog (LAUGHS). Seriously, every week we run this (Car of Tomorrow), we will get better at it. It's a work in progress and has evened out the playing field."

EURY (ON TIRE CONCERNS AT LAS VEGAS.): "I'm not so much concerned about the tires as I am on how tight the car will get throughout the race. We will just have to see how practice and the race shake out. But I'm not at all concerned about the tires."

EURY (ON THE PHOENIX TEST.): "Right after Vegas we will head to Phoenix and test for two days. We're planning on running the afternoon and evening session the first day to prepare for the night race in April, and then we are going to run the two sessions on Tuesday. Dale Jr. has had a lot of success at Phoenix in the past, so we're going to rely on his expertise as a driver at the track and the notes from the success Hendrick Motorsports has had at Phoenix, too. I expect to run really well there. The Phoenix test will help us with other tracks like New Hampshire Motor Speedway as well."