LOUDON, N.H. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. compares this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to racing at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the same track where the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy driver earned a runner-up finish in April.
“Just rolling through the center is the most challenging aspect,” Earnhardt said. “It sounds kind of simple, and we talk about it all the time. But just being fast there is about getting through the middle of the corner and getting the car to rotate, turn and go the other direction. Basically just like Martinsville in a way, where you have to roll the center really fast. Then you have to try to get your car to turn to go the other direction.”
In 23 Cup starts at the 1.058-mile short track, Earnhardt has scored six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. Most recently at New Hampshire, the Kannapolis, N.C., native climbed from his 32nd starting position to finish fourth and record his best results there in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. In six starts at the short track with Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt has posted two top-five finishes, three top-10s, and he’s led 108 laps.
Crew chief Steve Letarte believes that a good pit strategy and a secure car are the keys to running well at the 301-lap event.
“New Hampshire is a very difficult track because it’s such a short race,” Letarte said. “You have to really get your pit strategy right and the track is very hard to get ahold of. The corners are very slick and have a small radius. To be good there you have to be able to be secure enough that you can arc the car out far enough to turn in the middle and that allows you to have a pretty good drive off. It’s really one of the toughest tracks to get ahold of the whole season.”
Watch Earnhardt and the No. 88 team take on the New Hampshire short track Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on TNT.