Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dale Earnhardt Jr. searching for that first Las Vegas win

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 12./1 to win on Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Las Vegas
“We’re going to Vegas. Jimmie (Johnson) tested there and he liked what he saw, so I’m excited to get out there and practice. We practice Thursday … so we’ll get some laps and see if we can’t dial the car in. Vegas is going to be a lot of fun – a lot of bumps going down into Turn 1. You’ll definitely try to run the high side at some point in the race in Turns 1 and 2. I don’t know if the top will work in (Turns) 3 and 4 – sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t – but we’ll definitely be trying everything we can, running every groove, wherever that car wants to run and be comfortable. Hopefully we have as good a car, as fast a car and as good a day (as we did at Atlanta), and try to put it in Victory Lane. I’ve never won there and I’d love to get that victory at Vegas on my résumé.”

LOOKING FOR A WIN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yet to score a victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS has come close – recording three second-place finishes, most recently in the 2014 event, and finishing inside the top 10 in his last five trips to the 1.5-mile oval.

SHOWING SPEED: Earnhardt ranks at the top of the chart in average speed late in a run at Las Vegas in the last 10 years, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, with an average speed of 170.308 mph in the final 25 percent of laps run in a typical green-flag segment. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native is also ranked second-fastest in speed by segment, third-fastest on restarts, fourth in laps spent in the top 15 (2,124) and sixth in green-flag speed, laps led (142) and fastest laps run (124).

VEGAS TEST: Thursday, March 3, will mark the first test session of 2016 for the No. 88 team. Teams will be working on the low-downforce package similar to what was raced last week in Atlanta, where Johnson won and Earnhardt recorded a second-place finish. It marked the 40th one-two finish in Hendrick Motorsports history. Earnhardt heartily approved of the new package, complimenting the rules and the racing after climbing out of his Nationwide Chevy last Sunday.

'DRIVEN TO GIVE GLOVES' 2016 PROGRAM ANNOUNCED: The Dale Jr. Foundation (TDJF) announced that the Driven to Give Gloves program will return for 2016 and focus on four Patient Champions from Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH). The program will feature the auctioning of Earnhardt’s race-worn gloves four times during the 2016 NASCAR season. The signature, skeleton-themed design of his gloves will feature a different color for each of the NCH Patient Champions to raise awareness and funds for the hospital’s clinical and research programs. Nationwide Children’s is America’s largest pediatric hospital and research center with all care provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Driven to Give Gloves will kick off in April with Earnhardt wearing gloves accented in blue to raise awareness for autism and funds for research. At the end of the month, Earnhardt will sign the gloves for auction at TDJF’s eBay store with all of the proceeds going to benefit care and research. Visit TDJF’s website for more information.

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