Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Talladega
“We’ll go out there and draft a couple of times on Friday and qualify on Saturday and try to just enjoy it – it’s a real relaxing weekend schedule compared to most of these, and you don’t have to worry about the balance of the car too much. We’ll see how it races, but I haven’t put too much thought into that, to be honest. We haven’t done anything to make our fans too happy here lately, so we’ll try to change that at Talladega. (No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives) told me last week that we aren’t going to look at points anymore, we’re just going to try to go win a race. We had a great car in Daytona, just had some bad luck when we were leading, so we’re looking forward to Talladega.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will visit the Talladega Superspeedway media center at 2:50 p.m. local time on Friday, May 5.
WINNER, WINNER: Winning may not be all Dale Earnhardt Jr. 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 NASCAR Cup Series circuit. In 2015, he won the spring race and entered Talladega’s fall race in a win-to-continue playoff scenario, where he finished second, just missing his opportunity to make it into the penultimate round of the postseason. The 2016 spring race looked promising as Earnhardt qualified third, but after two separate incidents, he wasn’t able to finish the race. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt is at the top of the chart among active drivers in the laps led category, leading a total of 471 laps since 2005, 19 more than his next closest competitor.
TALLADEGA LOOP DATA: In addition to leading the most laps, Earnhardt has the second-best driver rating among active drivers at the track with an average of 92.0 since 2005. 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. Earnhardt also ranks near the top in several other loop data categories, including average running position (third – 14.407), laps in the top 15 (third – 2,698) and green-flag speed (second – 193.785 mph). The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native ranks in the top 10 in almost every additional category, including average speed late in a run (fourth – 193.745 mph), fastest laps run (seventh – 85), green-flag passes (seventh – 7,578), and quality passes (fourth – 4,893).
THE DOCTORS: Earnhardt will be featured on the Emmy Award-winning show "The Doctors,” along with his teammates and other NASCAR drivers, on Thursday, May 4. Earnhardt and the other drivers taped messages of encouragement and well-wishes for Jonah, a child from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who has a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa and a love for NASCAR. For information on the air time for your city, input your zip code into "The Doctors" homepage at http://www.thedoctorstv.com/.
HOMETOWN HERO: William “Rowdy” Harrell, rear-tire carrier for the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS 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 playing football in high school, Harrell was a walk-on linebacker for head coach Nick Saban’s well-known University of Alabama football team, winning three national championships in his four years with the team. The 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.
NCH VISIT: In case you missed it, Earnhardt, along with his wife Amy, his team owner Rick Hendrick, and his sister Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio last Thursday. The visit kicked off with the unveiling of the newly-dedicated Dale and Amy Earnhardt Activity Room. The dedication was a wedding gift from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Nationwide. Following the ceremony, the Earnhardts enjoyed spending time with patients and their families at the hospital. For a photo gallery from the visit, click here.