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Earnhardt, No. 88 team ready to roll in Atlanta

 

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 6, 2009)—With last week’s outing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his rear-view mirror, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is anxious to move onto this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing action at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I’m just looking forward to getting there and seeing what kind of race car we unload,” said Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. “We’ve got a little bit of a better attitude after Las Vegas and hopefully that’ll give us a little momentum.”

Earnhardt has reason to be optimistic about heading to the 1.54-mile Georgia racetrack, as the 34-year-old has a history of success there. Earnhardt currently holds the third-highest driver rating based on NASCAR’s loop data, which grades drivers at each track based during the last four years on their combination of wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. Earnhardt’s score of 103.7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway puts him four points behind second place Carl Edwards (107.4), and 10 behind frontrunner Jimmie Johnson (112.9).

Earnhardt earned his high ranking at the Georgia track by scoring four top-five finishes and four top-10s and leading 300 laps during the last four years.

Overall, Earnhardt has recorded one win, one pole position, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 19 Cup starts at Atlanta. On top of his average finishing position of 11.7, Earnhardt has finished in the top three of the last six races held at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The No. 88 team is prepared for Atlanta as well. Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. has picked Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-499—the same one that Earnhardt drove at Auto Club Speedway in February, when he climbed 27 positions before his No. 88 Chevy had an engine issue. At Atlanta, the No. 88 team will focus on the tire sitaution.

“Tire issues are a given,” Eury said. “You will see in the first practice that the surface is very abrasive with no rubber down. You will see a lot of cords on the outsides of the right-front and right-rear tires. Tires last about 10-12 laps on the first run, but as the weekend goes and more trucks and cars are on the track, that goes away. You just have to be aware of it on the first practice so you don’t take a chance and tear up a tire, but it will go away as the weekend goes on.”

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