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Earnhardt eyes Shootout with same ride, renewed drive

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2010) – This Saturday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race the same No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet in the Budweiser Shootout that he drove to lead a race-high 23 laps during last year’s exhibition event.

Earnhardt dominated the 2009 affair and appeared poised to defend his 2008 race win but was collected in a multicar accident in Turn 4 with 11 laps to go. He finished 18th. On Saturday, he’ll try it again when he lines up 11th for the 75-lap race at Daytona International Speedway. Race coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

Daytona has been one of Earnhardt’s most successful tracks.  Earnhardt has 12 NASCAR wins at Daytona: two in points-paying Sprint Cup races, five in the Nationwide Series, three during qualifying events and two in the Shootout (2003 and 2008). 

In nine starts in the Shootout, Earnhardt has tallied two wins, five top-five finishes, seven top-10s and led a combined 113 laps. 

“I look forward to seeing everybody—seeing the other drivers and crew members and everyone we haven’t seen all offseason,” Earnhardt said. “I look forward to hitting the track and getting some speed and going fast. We get down to Daytona and get to go right into drafting practice with the Shootout car, so you get to do a little racing right off the bat. It’s good to get to the track and get it out of your system.”

Returning crew chief Lance McGrew believes the key to success at Daytona is a good-handling chassis. The No. 88 team will work to perfect Earnhardt’s ride—in this case, Chassis No. 88-459—throughout the race.

“Daytona is Daytona,” McGrew said. “It’s just really rough. You have to work on the chassis handling. It doesn’t matter how good your body is or how much horsepower you make; if you aren’t on the gas because the car’s not turning then it doesn’t work.”

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