Would Become Third Driver to Claim 3 of 4 Races at Dega, Daytona in a Single Season
TALLADEGA, AL – When Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the green flag in the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday, Oct. 25, he’ll not only be looking to sweep into Victory Lane at the Talladega Superspeedway for the second time this season, he’ll also be trying to write his name into the track record book in a special way alongside his Dad – Dale Earnhardt Sr. – and Pete Hamilton.
With a win, Earnhardt Jr. would join the duo as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win three of the four races run at NASCAR’s “Super” superspeedways – Talladega and the Daytona International Speedway – in a single season. Earnhardt Jr. finished third in the season-opening Daytona 500, but won the GEICO 500 at Talladega in May after leading 67 of 188 laps and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July to set up his shot at racing history.
He’d love nothing more than to join the elite company of his father (accomplished feat in 1990), who was driving for Richard Childress Racing, and Hamilton (1970), who was driving for Petty Enterprises.
The CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Oct. 25 (starting at 1:30 p.m. CDT) will be the deciding race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Contender Round in which the championship field will be cut from 12 to eight at the checkered flag. A victory at TSS by an eligible driver in the Chase will result in an automatic berth in the Eliminator Round.
Earnhardt Jr., who guaranteed his spot in the Chase with his triumph in the GEICO 500, attributes much of his success at NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track (Talladega) and Daytona to the fact that he feels a great responsibility to run well there because so many people expect him to.
“I feel like I’m supposed to get up there and lead,” Dale Jr. said. “I feel like it’s a real disappointment for a lot of people when we don’t finish well, and if we’re not up in the battle trying at the end. If we are not in that group crossing the finish line that is up front, I feel that disappointment from all the supporters of our team, more so here and at Daytona than other race tracks for sure.”
Hamilton and Earnhardt Sr. both came close to achieving NASCAR’s version of a Grand Slam only to have strange strokes of misfortune cause them to come up just short.
In 1970, Hamilton won the Daytona 500, swept the two races at Talladega and had a competitive car in the early going in the July 4th Firecracker 400 at Daytona before a strip of insulation broke loose and went down the carburetor, choking the life from the engine and putting him out of the race after only 46 laps. Twenty years later, Earnhardt Sr. appeared well on his way to winning his first Daytona 500 when he, while leading, ran over some debris and cut a tire going into Turn 3 on the last lap and Derrike Cope sailed by for the victory. Earnhardt Sr. went on to sweep the two Talladega races and the July race in Daytona in 1990 to come oh-so-close to perfection.
Earnhardt Jr. holds the mark for consecutive victories at NASCAR’s biggest, baddest track with wins in four straight races from 2001 to 2003, including a sweep of both races in 2002. He has six wins at the track in 31 career starts and has recorded 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-ten finishes. The six wins tie him with Jeff Gordon for second on Talladega’s all-time victory list behind only Earnhardt Sr. (10).
“I felt like we have a lot of supporters here because of dad’s success here,” Dale Jr. said after his GEICO 500 triumph in May. “Dad won so many races here. I think about all the races he won here and at Daytona. I love when we go to Victory Lane because I feel like I add to his legacy. All I ever want to do is make him proud. I feel like when we win at those tracks where he was successful, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Talladega’s weekend kicks off on Friday (Oct. 23) with practice sessions for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola and the Camping World.com 500. Saturday’s (Oct. 24) slate includes Good Giant/Food Lane qualifying for both races, as well as the drop of the green flag for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (starting at noon CDT) which will feature veterans like Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter as they try to hold off hard-charging young guns like Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and others in the NCWTS championship chase. The CampingWorld.com 500 gets the green flag at 1:30 p.m. CDT.
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), most banked (33 degrees), and longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly, offering up hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids ticket prices and special offers for military members and college students. The historic venue, built in 1969, is NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield, which features the traditional Saturday Night concert and the world renowned Talladega Blvd, home of the “Big One on the Blvd” party. It is the site of the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large video viewing boards (a new initiative planned for future implementation at all ISC tracks) lining the frontstretch and endless activities for fans throughout its event weekends. Log on to www.talladegasupespeedway.com or call 877-Go2-DEGA for more information.