Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Earnhardt Jr. looking to carry Pocono momentum over to Michigan

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 18/1 to win his third race at Michigan Sunday.
Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 41 
Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on success at Pocono leading into Michigan

“Pocono was a good step in the right direction. I felt like we could go there and run good. I think we learned a lot that we could use to understand how to get better. I’m looking forward to Michigan. Obviously, it’s going to be a different package but I think it’ll make for good racing and we should run well on that track, too. I anticipate having a good weekend.”

VICTORY IN THE IRISH HILLS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has scored two wins at Michigan International Speedway. His most recent victory came on June 17, 2012, when he started 17th and led 95 laps before crossing the stripe with a 5.393-second lead to earn the victory. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has earned two pole-position starts at the two-mile track, tying his career bests. He also has two poles at Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. After finishing second at Pocono Raceway in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, he will be driving the bright red, orange and yellow scheme again this weekend for Axalta’s fourth of 13 races as the primary in 2016.

DRIVER RATING AND LOOP DATA: Earnhardt ranks fifth in the driver rating category for races in the last 10 years at Michigan with an average of 98.6. 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. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator. He also ranks in the top five in many other loop data categories, such as average running position (fourth – 12.06 average finish), fastest laps run (fifth – 205 fastest laps), laps in the top 15 (fourth – 2,977 laps), and quality passes (second – 933 passes).

IVES RETURNS TO HOME STATE: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives hails from Bark River, Michigan, and grew up working with his father and older brother at the local racetracks and spent eight years behind the wheel before finding his true calling under the hood. After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech, Ives' résumé ended up in the hands of Hendrick Motorsports team manager Brian Whitesell, who invited the aspiring engineer to meet at Daytona International Speedway during the 2004 Daytona 500 race weekend. To make the appointment, the self-described “grease monkey” drove from Michigan to Florida, sleeping in his car in the process, and subsequently landed a formal interview a few weeks later. He then joined the No. 24 team as a shop mechanic before getting the opportunity to be the race engineer on the No. 48 team. After recording five championships with Johnson and the No. 48 group, Ives went to JR Motorsports to crew chief, first with Regan Smith’s No. 7 NASCAR XFINITY Series entry in 2013 and then guided Elliott to an XFINITY championship in 2014 before returning to Hendrick Motorsports to lead the No. 88 team in 2015. You can read more about Ives’ background here.

IVES’ SUCCESS: In 2015, Ives earned his first Sprint Cup victory as a crew chief on May 3 at Talladega Superspeedway. He led Earnhardt to three wins and helped the driver tie his personal records for top-five finishes (16) and top-10s (22). As a rookie, Ives received the 2015 MOOG Problem Solver of the Year award, which goes to the Sprint Cup crew chief who posts the best overall performance throughout the year, most consistently demonstrates problem-solving excellence and wins the most MOOG Problem Solver of the Race awards. The weekly awards recognize the crew chief whose car posts the largest increase in average lap speed from the first half to the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Ives earned the distinction five times. To start the 2016 season, Ives guided Earnhardt to four top-five and five top-10 finishes in the first eight races, including three second-place finishes. Ives and his No. 88 Axalta team earned another second-place finish this past weekend in Pocono, bringing the season total to four runner-up results, five top-five and six top-10 finishes in 14 races.

IN THE FOX BOOTH: The driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet is scheduled to join the FOX NASCAR television booth as a guest driver analyst for FS1’s live coverage of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race from Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, June 11, at 1:30 p.m. ET. Earnhardt will team up with FOX NASCAR play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander and analyst Michael Waltrip to offer analysis for the entire race as several of his fellow drivers have done throughout the first portion of the 2016 season.

DALE JR. TRUCK: Leading into NASCAR’s visit to the home state of Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports introduced the Dale Jr. No. 88 Special Edition Silverado last week, created with Earnhardt and exclusively available at participating Chevrolet dealerships. Inspired by the No. 88 driver’s personal journey with his favorite Chevrolet trucks, the eye-catching special edition features premium GM accessories, a horsepower upgrade and a custom No. 88 graphics package. For more on the special edition Silverado, click here.

CATERING TO YOUNG FANS: Earnhardt will be participating in the NASCAR youth autograph session at Michigan International Speedway on Friday, June 10, at 2 p.m. local time. Additionally, spotter TJ Majors will be giving members of the youth advisory board a tour of the spotters’ stand on Sunday before the race.

2016 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 53 laps led


  • 591 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 13 pole positions
  • 148 top-five finishes
  • 252 top-10 finishes
  • 8,187 laps led

Track Career 

  • 33 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 14 top-10 finishes
  • 353 laps led

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