By admin | September 28, 2008
By Richard Allen
For the second week in a row within the Chase for the Championship, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was never really a factor in terms of having a chance to win in the Camping World 400 at the Kansas Speedway.
After getting off to a solid start with a Top 5 finish in New Hampshire, Junior’s Chase run has essentially fallen silent. The #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was an ill handling machine from the start on the 1.5 mile track and never showed significant improvement.
Earnhardt placed 13th at the checkered flag. That may not sound like such a poor finish until it is considered that 10 fellow Chasers were ahead of him. He is now 190 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
When asked to pick one track in which Junior would have the best possible chance at making up a big points deficit, most would say that Talladega would be the place. Granted, the popular driver has five wins on the Alabama speedway, but his most recent statistics do not bode well for a comeback.
Over the past seven races on NASCAR longest track Junior has only two Top 10 finishes. He has only raced there once since driving for Hendrick Motorsports. He finished 10th earlier this year in his current ride.
While it is true that he has run well enough to win within that seven race stretch, he has shown a certain degree of vulnerability to misfortune that once was not evident on the restrictor plate track.
The most a driver can earn for winning a Sprint Cup race is 195 points. The fewest number of points a driver can get is 34 which makes for a difference of 161 points. Considering Junior’s current position, he needs to win and lead the most laps at Talladega while hoping that at least one, or even two, of the top Chasers finish near the bottom.
With the ever looming threat of “The Big One”, a scenario like that is always possible. However, Junior’s recent record on the track does not necessarily guarantee he would be able to take advantage of any misfortune the leaders might have.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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