Earnhardt Jr Should Rise to the Top at Bristol

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IAugust 22, 2009

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 21:  Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives the #88 AMP Sugar Free/National Guard Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2009 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

What are the chances that Dale Earnhardt Jr. could carry some of the momentum from last weekend's third place finish, to a track that he only has one victory at and get a victory?

Well, for starters, he is in really good company with that win since there are only eight other drivers that have either one or more wins, that are also taking the green flag tonight.

Earnhardt also brings with him seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s, to go along with the 743 laps which he has led while finishing in the top 10 seven of the last 10 events at the short track.

In 19 races that Earnhardt has started at Bristol Motor Speedway, he has an average finishing position of 11.8, and has completed 98.4 percent of all the laps he's attempted (9,365 of 9,513 total) at the short track.

And when you talk about consistency, Earnhardt has the best average finish—8.4—among all active drivers during the last nine races at Bristol.

He also leads all active drivers with 366 green-flag passes during that timeframe. With numbers like these, its hard not to put all of his shortcomings aside while looking at a much brighter picture.

"We have been working hard as a team, and I want to carry the momentum from Michigan,“ said a very excited Earnhardt.

He also added this about how he feels about tonight’s chances.

“This is about as exciting as it gets for fans—night racing at Bristol. I enjoy short-track racing—it's what I grew up doing. Hopefully we can have another good run."

The last time Earnhardt raced at Bristol was back in March where he finished 14th with Tony Eury Jr. as his crew chief.

But tonight brings a whole different challenge with Lance McGrew while calling the shot's from atop the pit box.

"For me, in general, the hardest thing about Bristol is just the noise. It is so difficult.”

McGrew talked about the challenges that he will be facing tonight once the green flag drops.

“The laps happen so fast you can't ever talk to the driver because you can't talk to him while he is in the corner there, and he is always in the corner.”

McGrew also added, “It is so loud, and everything happens so fast that it's just very difficult to get good information to the driver and get good information back from the driver to make changes on the car.”

McGrew knows that he has work cut out for himself, with not only dealing with the season that his star driver has been having.

But also the with the quick decision making that Bristol is known for from all the crew chiefs.

“It's just impossible. And even under caution you are running around there in such a short amount of time. It's difficult to get a plan before you even come to pit road, so communication there is very, very difficult."

Hopefully know with the fate of Keselowski out of Earnhardt’s hands, he can focus more on trying to salvage the rest of his season.

There is still plenty of time to pick-up a win here and there, and quiet those who feel that he is not worthy to be driving in the series.


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