By admin | October 7, 2008
By Richard Allen
Typically, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads for Talladega one name immediately comes to mind, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Junior has won five times on the Alabama super speedway, including four in a row from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2003.
Coming into the 2008 version of the Amp Energy 500 Earnhardt and his fans were still clinging to the hope that he could get himself back into the championship race. He entered last Sunday’s race 190 points behind Jimmie Johnson. A good finish by Junior coupled with poor finishes by the other Chase contenders could allow the sport’s most popular driver to climb back toward the top of the standings.
One of the two things Junior needed to happen did indeed take place. Several Chase participants experienced trouble at Talladega. Unfortunately for Earnhardt, he was one of them.
Although Junior has had his fair share of success on this track, the most recent races at the Talladega Superspeedway have not been so good. Since 2005, Junior’s best finish has been a 7th. He has had five finishes in that time frame of 20th or worse.
On lap 26 of this year’s race the #88 Hendrick Motorsports car went to the front of the pack for the first which brought on a very predictable cheer from the crowd. Junior went on to race near the front of the pack for much of the day.
Junior’s day and his remaining hopes of winning the Chase title went away on lap 173. Carl Edwards tapped the back of teammate Greg Biffle’s car triggering “The Big One”. Earnhardt found himself caught up in that wreck.
Earnhardt finished in 28th place. He is now in the 10th spot in the standings, 249 points out of first place.
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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