Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 11/1/14

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 08: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 8, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, took over the points lead after finishing a career-best fourth on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This marks the first time since October 2004 that Earnhardt has led the driver standings, and the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet holds a 14-point lead over second-place Matt Kenseth with six races remaining until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set.

RECORD HOLDER: In 20 Cup events this season, Earnhardt has one win, nine top-five finishes and 15 top-10s. Earnhardt is the only driver to have completed all 5,648 laps this season, which extends his NASCAR record of lead-lap finishes to start a season. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy has 21 straight lead-lap finishes dating back to an 11th-place result last November in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This ties teammate Jeff Gordon, who posted 21 consecutive lead-lap finishes in 1998-99. Earnhardt will break the record if he finishes on the lead lap in Pocono this weekend.

MOST RECENTLY AT POCONO: Earnhardt started and finished eighth earlier this season at Pocono Raceway in June.  Earnhardt showed strength by leading 36 laps and raced inside the top five for a majority of the event. A conservative fuel strategy resulted in the eighth-place finish.

AT POCONO: In 25 Sprint Cup starts at Pocono Raceway, Earnhardt has recorded one pole position, five top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He has completed 97.3 percent of all the laps he’s attempted (4,716 laps of 4,849 total). The 37-year-old driver has led a total of 134 laps at the 2.5-mile track.

POCONO POLE POSITION: Earnhardt earned his Sprint Cup pole position at Pocono in August 2007, and he went on to lead eight laps and finish second in that race. The runner-up effort matched his best performance at the Long Pond, Pa., track. Earnhardt also finished second there on July 29, 2001, after leading 31 laps.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-726. Earnhardt first raced this chassis to an eighth-place finish at Pocono in June.

SPEEDWAY SUCCESS: Earnhardt has scored nine of his 19 career Sprint Cup wins on tracks that are two miles or longer. He has earned five at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, two at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and two at Michigan International Speedway. He also has tallied four pole positions, 36 top-five finishes, 56 top-10s and 1,652 laps led at tracks that are two miles or longer.

PEPSI’S PLACE: PepsiCo’s Purchase, N.Y., headquarters is located 125 miles east of Pocono Raceway. The company, which sponsors Earnhardt’s car with its Diet Mountain Dew brand, has been headquartered in Purchase since 1970.

HENDRICK AT POCONO: Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest organization at Pocono with 12 Cup victories. In 57 Cup races (185 starts) at the 2.5-mile racetrack, Hendrick Motorsports has gathered 53 top-five finishes and 96 top-10s. With five victories, Gordon is ranked tied for first among drivers all-time at the Tricky Triangle. Gordon’s 957 laps led are the most among drivers all-time at Pocono.

HENDRICK IN 20: In the first 20 Cup events of the season, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have combined to score six wins, 27 top-five finishes, 48 top-10s and 1,763 laps led. A driver within the organization ranks first in 10 of the 15 season-to-date loop statistics categories, with Jimmie Johnson notably holding a 109.2 driver rating and 912 laps led.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET (ON POCONO RACEWAY.): “I had a good, strong run at Pocono in June. I felt like we had a great car there last time. I’m definitely looking forward to going back there. I think the whole field will be a little bit stronger than it was. It will be a bit tougher. But I thought we had some good speed.”

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