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Dale Earnhardt Jr. extends NASCAR record

Dale Earnhardt Jr. extends NASCAR record

LOUDON, N.H. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued building his best season so far after he crossed the finish line fourth last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and kept alive his streak of lead-lap finishes.

Earnhardt is the only driver to finish the first 19 events of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season on the lead lap. What’s more, he’s the first Cup competitor to do that in the 60-plus-year history of the sport. He officially broke the previous record of 14 consecutive lead-lap finishes during the 15th race of the season when he went to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway on June 17.

While completing all 5,488 laps this year, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet has earned eight top five-finishes and 14 top-10s in addition to the Michigan win – his best career start to date.

“We’re running strong. I’m really happy with how many points we’re gaining every week and what we’re doing consistently,” said Earnhardt, who ranks second in the driver standings. “National Guard and Diet Mountain Dew want to be in Victory Lane, and that’s where I want to be, too. We just need a tick more speed. We’ve gotten faster. We’ve found speed and improved.”

With that record set, Earnhardt has another one on the horizon. Earnhardt is just one lead-lap finish shy of matching the record owned by teammate Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt’s streak of 20 began in November 2011 when he finished 16th at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gordon finished 21 consecutive races on the lead lap during the 1998 and 1999 Cup seasons – the same years Earnhardt won the NASCAR Nationwide championship.

Earnhardt returns to the track on July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he has finished on the lead lap seven times in 12 starts at the Brickyard. Fans can watch all the action on ESPN starting at noon ET.