Numbers Game For Earnhardt Jr

There are two important numbers facing Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week.

The first is 300, which is the number of career starts Earnhardt, Jr. will have after he takes the green flag in Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The second is 70, which is how long his current winless streak has reached.

Earnhardt is hoping everything adds up to his first trip to victory lane in nearly two years come Sunday.

"Well, I have to say it's a very fitting race track to have my 300th start," Earnhardt said. "I love going to Talladega because I like superspeedways and have done pretty well on them, but also mainly because of my fan base there. All weekend long, there are so many people telling you good things and helping you stay pumped up."

It shouldn't take much for Earnhardt to get pumped up Sunday based on his past success at Talladega, where in 16 starts he has five wins, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He has led 21.23 percent of the laps he's run on the 2.66-mile superspeedway (570 of 2,684 laps).

And then there's "Junior Nation," which makes itself heard on most every stop on the Sprint Cup circuit but especially at Talladega.

"We try to run up front as much as possible at that track because the fans just go wild when I take the lead," Earnhardt said. "It's amazing to see as a driver so I find myself being a little more pesky at that track as far as give and take because I want to lead as much as possible and stay up front to bring my fans to their feet. Three hundred starts -- wow. Well, hopefully I can triple that or quadruple that before my career is through. That would be cool."

Although his last win came at Richmond in May of 2006, Earnhardt isn't letting the length of time between trips to victory lane get to him.

"Well, coming up on two years without a win, you know, it's definitely something you recognize," he said. "It's definitely a stat that you are aware of and reminded of. It's not a whole lot of pressure. I still drive for a good team, I still have a great opportunity to win every time I show up."

"I guess if I was – if this losing streak or whatever you want to call it, if while that was going on I was suddenly finding myself trickling down the list of good race cars and good owners and finding myself in equipment that I felt was under par not on par with what wins races, I would be worried, and the pressure would be a lot."

Earnhardt, Jr. believes the time is close for him to pick up his 19th career Sprint Cup win and that his fans will soon be rewarded.

"I feel like the fans want to win," he said. "They're ready for a win. Their voice is pretty much right now I suppose from what I can tell they're pretty happy that we're running well and we're up front and stuff. And they have to keep reminding themselves to be patient for that win to come, because they've wanted the opportunity for their driver to be running well each week, and they have that now."

"They have to remind themselves to be patient for that win, but they want it just as bad as we do. So that's the deal. You just have to wait. When it happens, it will happen. There's really not much you can do other than just be as prepared as possible each weekend."

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2008

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