By admin | April 23, 2010
By Richard Allen
I very rarely pick Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win any race. To be perfectly honest, over the past couple of years I have had little faith in he or his team’s ability to do what it takes to win. That ringing endorsement aside, however, I believe he will win this weekend in Talladega.
Here’s the logic behind my thinking.
First, of Junior’s 18 career Sprint Cup victories, seven of them have come on the restrictor plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona. That does not even include a number of wins in qualifying races and all-star events in Daytona. So, if Earnhardt is to break out of his almost two year long losing streak, this track would be a likely place for that to happen.
Second, although Junior has not won a plate race since 2004, his most recent record on those tracks has been solid. His 2nd place finish in this race last year was somewhat lost in the Carl Edwards’ back flip as the cars came to the finish line. He finished 11th here in the fall of 2009 after leading nine laps.
And more, Junior staged a thrilling late race charge in this year’s Daytona 500 that took him from mid-pack to 2nd place in less than two laps. He finished just behind Jamie McMurray in that race.
Lastly, Junior and his team seem to finally be coming together. Last Monday in Texas they had a solid run all day which ended with an 8th place result. The team did do as they so often have and run near the front early then fade to oblivion later.
Thus far, Junior is 7th in the Sprint Cup standings with a top-5 and three top-10s to his credit, along with a pole in Atlanta. The only truly bad day this Hendrick Motorsports team has had was a 32nd place finish in California.
I believe this will finally be the weekend in which Dale Earnhardt, Jr., crew chief Lance McGrew and the rest of this team put everything together and finish in victory lane. The driver’s many fans would certainly savor such a moment, and so would NASCAR and its television partners as well.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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