IS TEXAS EARNHARDT JR.’S BEST CHANCE TO CLOSE OUT HIS NASCAR CUP CAREER WITH A VICTORY?
FORT WORTH, Texas (October 19, 2017) – With Talladega Superspeedway in the review mirror and five races remaining in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, where is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s best chance to close out his career with a victory?
Based off his career statistics and recent success, it points to the 1.5-mile oval where he recorded his first career Cup as well as XFINITY Series wins – Texas Motor Speedway.
It also would place fitting bookends of his storied career with his first and potentially final win coming at Texas Motor Speedway during the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 5.
The remaining five in order beginning this Sunday are Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 29), Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 12) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19).
So how does Earnhardt Jr.’s success stack up against the others even though his lone win at Texas was that first career Cup triumph in April of 2000? Quite well.
In his last five Texas Motor Speedway starts, he has finished no worse than sixth including a runner-up performance in the April race last year. After missing the 2016 AAA Texas 500 due to a concussion, he returned for April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on the repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway and finished fifth.
That finish remains as his season best to date.
In 29 career starts, he has tallied 18 top-10 finishes that is tied with Martinsville for the most among the remaining tracks. His average finish of 13.1 at Texas is the best among the remaining five.
Here is a breakdown of the final five races for Earnhardt Jr. with his best in each category among those highlighted:
Top 5s: 3
Top 10s: 9
Laps Led: 148
Avg. Finish: 16.2
Most Recent Finish: 20th – 2017
– Has finished 15th or worse in four of the previous five races- Best finish (2nd) came in spring of 2011
Top 5s: 13
Top 10s: 18 (tie)
Laps Led: 972
Avg. Finish: 13.6
Most Recent Finish: 34th – 2017
– Won the fall race in 2014 after leading 79 laps- Two finishes of 34th or worse in the past four races
Texas Motor Speedway
Top 5s: 7
Top 10s: 18 (tie)
Laps Led: 448
Avg. Finish: 13.1
Most Recent Finish: 5th – 2017
– Five consecutive finishes among the top six and 10 of the last 12 among the top 10
– In addition to his lone win, he has finished runner-up on three occasions (2003, fall of ’13, fall of ’16)
Phoenix International Raceway
Top 5s: 9
Top 10s: 14
Laps Led: 569
Avg. Finish: 16.0
Most Recent Finish: 14th – 2017
– His most recent victory of the five remaining tracks came at PIR in the fall of 2015
– Finishes of 43rd (2015-spring) and 14th (2017-spring) are the only blemishes in the previous eight races
– Five top-five finishes in the previous eight
Top 5s: 1
Top 10s: 2
Laps Led: 121
Avg. Finish: 21.5
Most Recent Finish: 40th – 2015
– Proven to be the most difficult track of the remaining five with just one top-five finish
– Last start at Homestead-Miami was November of 2015
– Finished third in 2013, a career-best at the venue
NASCAR HALL OF FAMER ADDED TO RACEDAY U
Texas Motor Speedway’s fan-favorite RaceDay U added another “professor” to its already stout guest lineup. NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison joins NASCAR drivers Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick, along with Fixer Upper star and honorary pace car driver Chip Gaines.
Tickets for RaceDay U are $199 and include hospitality access with complimentary food and Coca-Cola beverages, a pass for the Loud & Proud Pre-Race Show Powered by Texas Corn, grandstand ticket for the AAA Texas 500 and Q&A sessions with the special guests. Norm Hitzges of 1310 The Ticket serves as the host for the event.
SMOKE SHOW SUCCESS
Tony Stewart’s 10th annual Smoke Show Fantasy Camp, held last Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway, raised more than $80,000 for children in North Texas.
The Smoke Show is one of the premier fantasy camps in the country as campers receive the full race experience, complete with a customized firesuit; personalized locker; pre-race driver introductions; two 10-lap competitive sessions in a Team Texas stock car; Texas-style Victory Lane celebration with cowboy hat and six shooters; and a three-lap, ride-along experience with Stewart as the driver.
The evening included dinner in Victory Lane and a live auction with exclusive Stewart memorabilia. Topping the list of items sold were specially designed helmets by custom painter Tex McDorman, with two sold for an individual price of $5,000 each.
Stewart and the Smoke Show have raised more than $1.7 million for the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
FANS CAN HIT THE TRACK BEFORE NASCAR DRIVERS
Race fans can gear up for the upcoming AAA Texas 500 race weekend by taking a spin around Texas Motor Speedway at Saturday’s “Laps For Charity” event.
“Laps For Charity,” which gives fans the opportunity to take their personal vehicle around Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile oval while paced by the speedway’s official Chevrolet SS pace car, has remained one of Speedway Children’s Charities’ most popular fundraisers.
The event, which will run from 5-10 p.m. CT, offers fans a chance to take their personal vehicle or motorcycle around Texas Motor Speedway for three laps and culminate the experience with a trip to Sunoco Victory Lane for a commemorative individual photo. The three-lap experience and photo is $40 with advance purchase or $50 the day of the event. Additional three-lap experiences may be purchased for a discounted rate of $30. A limited number of reservations are available for car clubs.
For more information, please visit www.scctexas.org or call Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas at (817) 215-8421.
NASCAR PERSONALITIES TAKE CRACK AT DIFFERENT FORM OF DRIVING
NASCAR on FOX personality and two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and NBC Sports announcer Rick Allen will headline Speedway Children’s Charities inaugural Drive for Charity TopGolf Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 6:30 p.m. in Fort Worth.
Guests will enjoy an evening at Fort Worth’s new TopGolf complex and participate in a tournament that will include other NASCAR celebrities. Team sponsorships start at $1,500. For more information on the Drive for Charity TopGolf Tournament, visit www.scctexas.org or call (817) 215-8421.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Watch Tony Stewart share his thoughts on Danica Patrick’s future.