Friday, June 16, 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr seeing positives of fast car for Michigan

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 80/1 to win at Michigan; so is Kasey Kahne.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Michigan
“We had a really fast car at Pocono, running top-five lap times. I was happy with the speed of the car, so hopefully we can carry that to Michigan. It’s typically a really good track for us. We’re back in the simulator this week preparing for it – we’ve just got to stay on it and keep working toward success.”

VICTORY IN THE IRISH HILLS: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s most recent victory at Michigan International Speedway 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 also 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.

: Earnhardt ranks fifth in the driver rating category among active drivers at Michigan with an average of 96.0 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. 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 fastest laps run (fourth – 205 laps), green-flag speed (fifth – 179.850 mph), laps in the top 15 (third – 2,977 laps), laps led (fifth – 289), and quality passes (second – 933 passes) during that span.

The No. 88 Chevrolet SS will sport the green colors of Mountain Dew this weekend. Michigan marks the second of three races where Mountain Dew will be the primary sponsor on Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy. Check out this article for a closer look at the Dew scheme.

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. He 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 Jimmie 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, then guiding Chase 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.

MORE MICHIGANDERS: In addition to Ives, several members of the No. 88 Mountain Dew team also have ties to Michigan. Doug Wojcik, a Wisconsinite and a race engineer for the No. 88 team, attended Michigan Tech to get his engineering degree. In the summer of 2014, following his junior year, Wojcik interned at Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports for the summer, where he got to know Ives. Wojcik interned at Hendrick Motorsports on the setup plate while finishing his classes at UNC Charlotte and had his credits transferred back to Michigan Tech so that he could graduate in May 2015. He began traveling with the No. 88 team as a race engineer in the fall of 2015. Andy “Squigz” Quillan, hauler driver for the No. 88 team, was born and raised in Orleans, Michigan, which is approximately two hours from the racetrack. He has had a passion for motor sports since he watched a NASCAR race at his home track as a kid. Quillan started his racing career as a car chief in the ARCA series 10 years ago before joining Hendrick Motorsports. Scott Brzozowski, the front-tire changer for the No. 88 team, grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which is outside of Detroit. He was a member of the No. 24 team's over-the-wall crew before he switched to the No. 88 team last fall. Brzozowski lists Jeff Gordon’s victory in the 2014 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his favorite moment in racing to date.

2017 Season

  • 23rd in standings
  • 14 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 10 laps led


  • 609 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 13 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 254 top-10 finishes
  • 8,197 laps led

Track Career 

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

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