Dale Earnhardt Jr. Is Coming Back to Alabama and he Is Ready to Win
This weekend is as about as good as it gets for Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Amp Energy/ National Guard Chevrolet, who is still searching to break his 65 race winless streak.
Earnhardt, who looks to have gotten his confidence back after a disappointing season in 2009 is ready to dust off his mantle in hopes of putting win No. 19 in its spot.
Earnhardt, who is still the fan favorite whenever the NASCAR series visits this historic 2.66 mile oval, will be looking to catch his teammate Jeff Gordon in the overall win column with a victory on Sunday.
Earnhardt's five wins at Talladega are the most for him at any track and ranks him third all-time among drivers at the Alabama oval.
Earnhardt's father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., leads with 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon has recorded six.
Talladega has always been good to Earnhardt and he never has finished worse than 10th since coming over to HMS in 2008.
Last year, Earnhardt’s runner-up finish was overshadowed by the violent wreck which took place on the last lap, when Carl Edwards went airborne into the fence.
In 41 Cup starts on the super speedways of Daytona Beach, Fla. and Talladega, Earnhardt has recorded seven wins, 15 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s.
He has led a total 1,051 laps on the high banks. With his eighth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt advanced three positions to seventh in the Sprint Cup championship standings.
He trails leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson by 235 points, but is only 15 points away from teammate Jeff Gordon, who ranks fifth.
For the first time in the organization's history, Hendrick Motorsports has four drivers ranked in the top 10 in the Sprint Cup championship standings.
After Monday's race at Texas, Johnson leads the group in first, while Gordon is fifth, Earnhardt is seventh and Mark Martin is 10th.
This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-575.
This is a brand new chassis that was used as a backup car for the Daytona 500 in February.
The team tested this chassis at the open NASCAR test at Talladega last month. “When you show up, whatever you unload, that's what you are going to have all weekend.
"There's not a lot that you can do to the car to improve it," said Earnhardt when talking about racing at Talladega.
Earnhardt also added that, "NASCAR has a lot of rules with the cars at Talladega and Daytona, where you can't do a lot of changes in the back of the car to get the car to handle good. However it unloads is about as fast as it is going to get. Hopefully we brought a bullet."
McGrew knows the importance of how far a good finish can carry the team throughout the rest of the season, along with capitalizing on a track that Earnhardt can almost call his home.
"Dale's not the kind of guy that wants to ride around the back. Our intent is to lead every lap and try to stay out of trouble in the front,“ said McGrew when talking about his race day strategy.
McGrew also added that, “I don't think anyone has more conviction to getting what he wants than Dale Jr. We definitely have a race car from the test that can go down there and lead and be out front. That's our intention."
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