Earnhardt Seeks Phoenix Heat Wave

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AVONDALE, Ariz. - Phoenix International Raceway has been one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s better tracks and the Hendrick Motorsports driver would like to continue that trend with a win in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Earnhardt scored back-to-back wins at PIR in his DEI days during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Since becoming a Sprint Cup regular, the desert track has been one of Earnhardt's favorites thanks to those two wins and an overall record that also includes four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.

"We've had some pretty neat finishes and real dominant race cars when I won those races," Earnhardt said. "It's a hard track to win at, and it's a long ways from home. Any time you travel that far and get a good finish, it makes it worthwhile."

The unique layout of the track suits Earnhardt's driving style despite its distance from the sport's hub in the Charlotte area.

"I tend really to feel more comfortable on tracks that are in North Carolina or close to home," he said. "Phoenix is fun because it's different -- the way the corners are different from each other."

A good finish would help Earnhardt Saturday night who comes into the weekend 16th in the series point standings.

He's hoping past experience at PIR and a recent upswing in the No. 88 team's performance will translate to a good night on Saturday and Earnhardt's approach to driving the tricky track.

"You have to challenge and charge every corner and challenge the brakes to slow the car down for the middle every corner and there is just a lot of real aggressive powering down on exit every time and in the center of three and four you just kind of charge the tires into the center of the corner and aggressively trying to whip the backend around to get the car to exit the corner," Earnhardt said. "That seems to be faster than taking it easy or being smooth as they say."

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