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Earnhardt to make 500th NASCAR start Sunday

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 8, 2010) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his 500th start in a NASCAR-sanctioned points-paying event this weekend at Watkins Glen International. When Earnhardt takes the green flag on Sunday, he will be making his 385th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start—he has also tallied 115 starts in the Nationwide Series.

In 499 starts thus far, Earnhardt has tallied 41 wins, 143 top-five finishes, 221 top-10s, 19 pole positions, and led 9,911 laps. Earnhardt’s 18 Sprint Cup wins are tied for 37th on the all-time winner’s list and tied for eighth among active, full-time drivers. He ranks ninth all-time on the Nationwide Series win list with 23 wins.
“I didn’t realize that I was approaching 500,” said the driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet with a smile. “I take a lot of pride in what I’ve accomplished in these past 15 years or so. I’m proud of the two Nationwide championships, the wins in both series and having worked with a lot of talented people. I like that I’m able to do what I do for a living. I’m passionate about racing and it keeps me from having to get a real job.”

Earnhardt is the only third-generation NASCAR champion in the history of the sport, which he achieved when he captured the Nationwide Series title in 1998 and 1999. His legendary father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was a seven-time champion in the Sprint Cup Series (1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994). And Earnhardt Jr.’s grandfather Ralph Earnhardt collected the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman championship.

Tune into ESPN at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday to watch Earnhardt make this historic start and take on the final road course of the season.

By the Numbers
Some of Earnhardt’s notable starts:

1 - Earnhardt made his first start in the Nationwide Series on June 22, 1996, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He started seventh and finished the event 14th.

16 - First Nationwide Series win. Earnhardt started 16th and led six laps on his way to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.

55 - Earnhardt made his first start in the Cup series on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. After earning the eighth qualifying spot, he finished 16th.

84 - First Sprint Cup win. Earnhardt returns to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway, this time to earn his first win in NASCAR’s elite series. He started fourth and led a race-high 106 laps.

89 - First Sprint Cup pole position. Earnhardt earned the first starting spot at Charlotte in the 600-mile event. He finished fourth after leading 175 laps.

129 - Earnhardt won the July 2001 event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway after leading 116 laps.

143 - Earnhardt started sixth and led 67 laps on his way to Victory Lane on Oct. 21, 2001, at Talladega (Ala.) Speedway – his first of four straight Cup wins at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Earnhardt now owns five career victories at the racetrack.

228 - First Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt, who won the Nationwide race on Saturday, started the Great American Race third and led 58 laps to win the Cup event on Feb. 15, 2004.

409 - Earnhardt won his first points-paying event driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on June 15, 2008, at Michigan International Speedway.

495 - Driving the No. 3 Chevrolet in honor of his father, Earnhardt started the Nationwide race third and went to Victory Lane in the July 2, 2010, event at Daytona.