Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dale Earnhardt Jr Ready for All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

ALL-STAR VICTORY: Dale Earnhardt Jr. made history on May 20, 2000, when he became the first rookie ever to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Earnhardt, who beat veteran Dale Jarrett to the finish line by 1.295 seconds, led two laps that night.

ALL-STAR STATS: In 10 appearances in the non-points all-star event, Earnhardt has scored one win, three top-five finishes and nine top-10s. In last year's race, Earnhardt started fourth and ultimately crossed the finish line 10th.

DALE'S DESIGN: Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet will have a different look for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. AMP Energy and the National Guard donated this weekend's paint scheme, and Earnhardt helped design the black-and-silver Chevrolet, which will sport the The Dale Jr. Foundation logo.

THE DALE JR. FOUNDATION: Founded in 2007, The Dale Jr. Foundation is a charity dedicated to giving underprivileged individuals, with a focus on youth, the resources to improve their confidence and education, and the opportunity to achieve extraordinary goals. Each year the foundation supports more than 300 organizations through charitable donations. For the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Earnhardt will be running his foundation's logo on the hood of his No. 88 Chevy.

EARNHARDT'S ENTRY: Earnhardt locked up his spot in this year's all-star event by winning the race in 2000. All-star winners from the past 10 seasons are automatically eligible to participate.

ALL-STAR PIT CREW: The sixth annual NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge kicks off the all-star weekend on Wednesday by providing crew members with a chance to test their skills in head-to-head competition. The No. 88 pit crew includes front-tire changer Adam Emmert (McCall, Idaho), front-tire carrier Ben Fischbeck (Waynesville, Mo.), rear-tire changer Kip Wolfmeier (Kingdom City, Mo.), rear-tire carrier Matt Myers (Ford City, Pa.), gasman Chris Fasulka (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), catch can Aaron Walker (Mims, Fla.) and jackman Mark Jacobs (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.). The event begins at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. The finishing order will determine teams' pit selection for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-556, which is the first chassis McGrew built from scratch for Earnhardt. This chassis, which Earnhardt debuted in 2009 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was used last February at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Earnhardt started fourth and finished 16th.

HENDRICK IN THE ALL-STAR: Hendrick Motorsports has tallied six wins, 29 top-five finishes and 42 top-10s in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, most recently going to Victory Lane with Jimmie Johnson in 2006. With two pole positions, the organization owns an average starting spot of 9.5 and an average finish of 8.7. Compared to other teams all-time, Hendrick owns the most wins, top-five finishes, top-10s and laps led (509) in the non-points event.

TOP-FIVE: Hendrick Motorsports four drivers each rank inside the top five for laps run in the top 15 among all drivers in the last five all-star events. Jeff Gordon ranks first with 435 laps (94.6 percent) of the last 460 run at the 1.5-mile oval, and Johnson is second with 433 laps (94.1 percent). Earnhardt owns the fourth-best percentage at 87.8, which means he has spent 404 laps running in the top 15. Martin rounds out the top five with 399 laps (86.7 percent).

600 PREVIEW: After running the The Dale Jr. Foundation car this weekend, Earnhardt will race the No. 88 National Guard "Honoring Our Soldiers"/AMP Energy scheme in the May 30 event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets will sport special patriotic paint schemes during the Memorial Day weekend event to honor the men and women that serve in the armed forces.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 THE DALE JR. FOUNDATION/AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON THE ALL-STAR RACE.): "The all-star race is a serious race, perhaps as serious as any race in the season. It can be a high-pressure situation, and we put a lot of emphasis into it. A lot of work goes into it, and a lot of cars get tore up. There's a lot of people really upset afterward because it's all about winning. That's the only thing that matters."

MARK MAULDIN, NOS. 5/88 PIT CREW COACH (ON THE ADDITION OF A PIT STOP WITH 10 LAPS TO GO.): "That's a big deal. What it does is it just gives a pit stop more importance during the All-Star Race. Before, we had to pit under green in the first segment. There were three segments, and you had a 10-minute break in between to actually work on the car and get it the way you wanted for your last segment. Then it was pretty much out of our hands. I like it, that's why I continue to coach. I feel like we (the pit crew) are important. With the race on the line and the car coming down pit road, we want to make a difference. And I want people around me that feel the same way. We want it (the car) to come in, we want to pit it, we want to advance it. If we are just out there paddling around and not actually having an influence on the end of the race, then it's not too exciting for us."

MAULDIN (ON THE ALL-STAR RACE.): "The thing I enjoy about it is the pit crew only gets a couple chances during a short event like that. It really makes you focus, it really makes you be on your game because you're not at a Darlington (S.C.) that you're doing eight, nine pit stops, or somewhere that if you don't have a really super pit stop you can come in and do it again. We're going to have two or three chances, and we're going to make the best out of it. I enjoy that situation. I want our guys to feel like they're important and that they have a bearing on how things come out. We certainly do in this race."

WALT SMITH, NOS. 5/88 PIT CREW COORDINATOR (ON PREPARING FOR THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE.): "We don't overemphasize the pit crew challenge because if you get too caught up in it -- it's so different than anything we do normally -- you can get taken out of your mindset for your normal pit stops. We do practice for it. Here, we started about three weeks ago just going through choreography of the car push and where we wanted to place people and so forth. About two weeks ago we started implementing the positions. We had each position work with their partner to make sure they were best suited to go fast. The competition is all about going fast and not making mistakes -- just like a pit stop is. But you have to get comfortable with starting in a box, waiting for the buzzer to go 'three, two, one, beep.' We started that about two weeks ago. We've probably put eight to 10 hours in it. Nothing super elaborate, but we are prepared for it."

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