Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Best way to slow Joe Gibbs Racing: Junior at Talladega

Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes for seventh Talladega win
Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
Hometown: Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age: 41 
Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media at 3 p.m. local time on Friday at the Talladega Superspeedway media center.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Talladega
“We’re going to have ‘Amelia.’ She is fixed and (No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives) says she is going to be the primary. He’s fired up his Twitter account recently … and he let all the fans know on Monday that Amelia is coming back. I’m excited about that – we know how she ran last year. We just have to run Talladega like we have to win it, just like we did the last time we were there. We did a good job. If we run it like that, we’ll be up front at the end.”

ALL HE DOES: Winning may not be all Earnhardt does at Talladega Superspeedway, but the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS does have six wins on the 2.66-mile tri-oval, more than he has at any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Last season, he won there in the spring race and entered Talladega’s fall race in a win-to-continue Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup scenario, where he finished second, just missing his opportunity to make it into the penultimate round of the Chase. With an average of 93.8, Earnhardt has the best driver rating among active drivers at the track. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points.

AMELIA RETURNS: Crew chief Greg Ives and the No. 88 Nationwide team are bringing “Amelia,” named after pilot Amelia Earhart, back for Talladega. Amelia is the chassis that Earnhardt drove to three wins in 2015 – one in the first Daytona Duel in February, another at Daytona in July, and one at Talladega in May – and another earlier this season, in the first Daytona Duel. After receiving some damage in the 2016 Daytona 500, the team repaired the chassis in preparation for this Sunday’s race.

TALLADEGA LOOP DATA: In addition to his driver rating, Earnhardt also holds the top spot in several other loop data categories, including average running position (13.6), laps in the top 15 (2,673) and laps led (471 in the last 10 years, 960 in his career). The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native is near the top of the chart in many additional categories, including average speed late in a run (third – 193.611 mph), fastest laps run (eighth – 84), green-flag passes (fifth – 7,375), green-flag speed (fourth – 193.641 mph) and quality passes (third – 4,829).

LAVENDER GLOVES: During the month of May, Earnhardt will be wearing gloves accented in lavender to represent pediatric cancer awareness as part of The Dale Jr. Foundation’s ongoing Driven to Give Gloves program. The gloves will be auctioned off at the end of the month to raise funds for Nationwide Children’s 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. Each year, more than 150 children are newly diagnosed with cancer at Nationwide Children's Hospital and patients receive ongoing treatment and therapies during more than 13,000 visits annually. The hospital’s cancer center is one of the largest in America offering world-class diagnostic, treatment and research facilities that provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary care for patients with cancer and acute and chronic blood disorders.

HOMETOWN HERO: William “Rowdy” Harrell, rear-tire carrier for the No. 88 Nationwide team, can certainly be called a hometown hero when he returns to Alabama, and particularly to Moundville, the small town where he grew up. After all, there is a street bearing his name – Rowdy Harrell Way – that leads to his high school football stadium. After playing football in high school, Harrell was a walk-on linebacker for Nick Saban’s well-known University of Alabama football team, winning three national championships in his four years with the team. The 6-foot-tall, 26-year-old tire carrier can also add race-winner to his list of accolades, as he joined the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team in 2014 and became one of the six primary over-the-wall crew members in 2015. During those two seasons, the No. 88 team racked up seven wins, including the 2014 Daytona 500.

SANDWICHES FOR A CAUSE: Earnhardt drove the No. 88 Hellmann’s Chevrolet Camaro to victory in his final NASCAR XFINITY Series race of the 2016 season, earning his first win as a driver for his own JR Motorsports team. The win helped create another spike in donations for Blessings in a Backpack, a national, non-profit organization which packs food for school children who are at risk of going hungry on the weekends. Earnhardt’s banana and mayo sandwich tweet has helped raise approximately $160,000, including his match and Hellmann’s contribution, for the non-profit organization on behalf of The Dale Jr. Foundation.


2016 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 9 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 49 laps led


  • 586 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 13 pole positions
  • 147 top-five finishes
  • 251 top-10 finishes
  • 8,183 laps led

Track Career 

  • 32 starts
  • 6 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 12 top-five finishes
  • 16 top-10 finishes
  • 960 laps led

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