By admin | October 20, 2013
By Richard Allen
At one time, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was, without question, THE favorite every time the Sprint Cup Series found itself on the restrictor plate tracks in Talladega and Daytona. For a short time, he was indeed the master of those domains.
Junior collected five wins over a span of only seven races at Talladega between 2001 and 2004. During that same time period, he added two more victories at Daytona, including an emotional July of 2001 win in the first race back at the track since his father’s death. He also scored the biggest win of his career there in 2004 when he captured the Daytona 500.
A look at Earnhardt’s statistics on the two giant facilities since 2004, however, reveals that his results are hardly better than average.
Daytona has been the better of the two tracks for him in that he has posted several top-5 finishes there. But in so doing, he has led relatively few laps. In Junior’s last ten starts at Daytona, he has been at the front for only 15 total circuits, with the grand total being zero in the four most recent events there.
Since 2004, Junior has actually been well below average at Talladega. He has posted only five top-10s in his last 17 starts on the Alabama track. Further, seven races have resulted in finishes outside the top-20 on the old Native-American burial ground.
Back in the day, Junior was a threat to not only win but dominate on these two tracks. That day has apparently passed by. However, because he is so popular, a number of talking heads on television will likely say that he is “the favorite” to win Sunday’s race in Talladega because it’s what so many fans want to hear. But the numbers since 2004 simply don’t back that up.
Earnhardt has a chance to win in Talladega, but so do 42 other drivers if they can avoid ‘The Big One’ that is almost certain to happen.
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