Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up his 17th top-10 finish of the season after taking seventh at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sept. 2 and now ranks second in the driver standings. He trails leader Greg Biffle by eight points with one race remaining until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. Earnhardt clinched a spot in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after finishing 12th at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
AT RICHMOND: In 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Earnhardt has recorded three wins, nine top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has led a total of 427 laps and completed 99.1 percent of all laps he’s attempted at the short track (10,308 laps of 10,403 total).
RICHMOND WINS: Among active drivers, Earnhardt is one of four drivers ranked tied for second with three Cup victories at Richmond. Earnhardt most recently went to Victory Lane at Richmond on May 6, 2006, after leading 47 laps.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-709. Earnhardt raced this chassis to a 14th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway in March and most recently to a second-place finish at Richmond in April.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks 13th in the driver rating category at Richmond with a score of 84.2. 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.
HENDRICK AT RICHMOND: In 57 Sprint Cup races (178 starts) at Richmond, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, which leads all active teams at the short track. The organization also has 50 top-five finishes, 87 top-10s, 3,637 laps led and a team-best 15 pole positions at Richmond. Jeff Gordon, who ranks tied for first among active drivers with five pole positions, leads active drivers with 1,413 laps led and an 8.1 average starting position.
DOUBLE DIGITS: Richmond is one of eight tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has 10 or more victories. Of Hendrick Motorsports’ 10 wins at Richmond, half have occurred in the second race of the year. Tim Richmond earned the organization’s first victory there on Sept. 7, 1986, after leading 51 laps. Most recently, Jimmie Johnson went to Victory Lane at the short track on Sept. 7, 2008.
FASTEST LAPS: In the first 25 Sprint Cup races this season, Hendrick Motorsports’ four drivers have accounted for 31.7 percent of the fastest laps run (1,890 of 5,982), and the organization leads all other teams in this loop standings category. Combined, the quartet has led 1,994 laps this season, which also leads all other teams this year.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY.): “I like short tracks. Richmond has been a good one for us for a couple of races. I have always enjoyed running there, and it’s a fun track. It’s not your typical short track with the way the front straightaway is. It definitely makes each corner unique from the other and the way you drive the track can change throughout the race. It’s a lot of fun for a driver.”