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Earnhardt to make 300th start at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 24, 2008)—Racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway always has been a homecoming of sorts for Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet.

The Hendrick Motorsports newcomer has a solid following here, and he has a knack for running well at the restrictor-plate track. In 16 starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has five wins, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s.

So, in a way, it’s fitting that Earnhardt would record his 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the Alabama track.

“I love going to Talladega because I like superspeedways and have done pretty well on them, but also mainly because of my fan base there,” Earnhardt said. “All weekend long, there are so many people telling you good things and helping you stay pumped up.  We try to run up front as much as possible at that track because the fans just go wild when I take the lead.”

In 10 years of competing at NASCAR’s highest level, Earnhardt has recorded 17 wins, eight pole positions, 79 top-five finishes and 127 top-10s. He has completed 85,378 laps and his 5,842 laps led ranks fourth among all drivers since 1999. Overall, he’s logged 112,459.8 miles on his Chevrolets in 299 starts.

Earnhardt made his Cup debut at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999, when he drove the No. 8 Chevrolet for his dad’s team. He started eighth that day and finished 16th. That season, Earnhardt went on to claim his second straight Nationwide (formerly Busch) Series championship while competing off and on in NASCAR’s elite series. Since then, the 33-year-old has racked up 300 starts, and he has done so four years faster than his dad. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was 37 when he notched his 300th start, which he did at North Wilkesboro on Oct. 16, 1988. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14 years old at the time.

Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt’s cousin and crew chief, just shook his head in disbelief about the milestone.

“You lose count of how many races you actually run,” Eury said. “It’s pretty special for him to run that many races. But winning it would be even more special on that particular day. We’ve been through a lot together, and I can happily say I’ve been there for probably every one of them.”

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