Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has started off the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season strong, the best that he has in his 12 years racing in the nation’s top stock car series. Not only does he lead the NSCS in the point standings, 12 points ahead of second place, Brad Keselowski, Earnhardt is the only driver with top 10 finishes in the first five races and one of only four who have completed every lap thus far. Earnhardt’s average finish stands at a 4.4 and this weekend, he will be taking on one of the toughest tracks on the circuit but also one of the tracks he races best at, Martinsville.
Many might be surprised to know that the track that Earnhardt has been the most successful in his career is Martinsville. Though he has yet to win at the flat half-mile track, he has come close many times leading nearly 900 laps while scoring 10 top 5s and 14 top 10s. Earnhardt’s driver rating at Martinsville trumps all other tracks with a 99.8.
Though his most previous finish at Martinsville was 21st last Fall, Earnhardt did run in the top 10 the majority of that race and has previous finishes of third, seventh, second and seventh. For whatever reason, Earnhardt seems to excel in the spring event. Earnhardt averages an eighth place finish with seven top 5s and 9 top 10s in the spring while in the fall he averages a 17.9 finish with three top 5s and five top 10s.
Being the lone driver currently in the Cup Series that has family roots seeded in NASCAR history, you know Earnhardt badly wants to win at Martinsville. Besides the prestige of winning at one of the oldest, most historic tracks on the tour, there is the infamous Grandfather Clock that each Martinsville victor receives. Earnhardt watched his father win at the paperclip six times and probably more than any other driver appreciates what it means to win at Martinsville. Do not be surprised if you see the Diet Mountain Dew number 88 Chevrolet in victory lane come Sunday.