Earnhardt Looks For Atlanta Rebound

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Two straight disappointing races after finishing second in the season-opening Daytona 500 has Dale Earnhardt Jr. in need of a good run in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

What began as a season with great promise when Earnhardt went from 10th to second on the final lap at Daytona has turned sour in the two subsequent races. A broken axle in Fontana and a poor handling car last Sunday in Las Vegas has dropped Earnhardt to 15th in the Sprint Cup Series standings heading to Atlanta.

The 1.54-mile track has been one of Earnhardt's more successful during his Cup career. In 21 starts Earnhardt Jr. has scored one win, one pole position, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.

He has an average finishing position of 11.9 and has completed 99.4 percent of all laps he's attempted (6,716 of 6,757 total).

Earnhardt's eight top-five Sprint Cup finishes at AMS match his personal best at a track. He also has eight top-fives at Talladega Superspeedway, Richmond International Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.

"We've always run pretty good at Atlanta, so I look forward to going there," he said. "It's a wide track, and it gets slick. Atlanta is a driver's track - if one groove doesn't work, then you can find another one. It's a fun track, and it's a fast track."

Crew chief Lance McGrew, who worked with Earnhardt for the first time in Atlanta last Labor Day weekend, has his theories on why his driver runs particularly well at the Georgia oval.

"I think because the place is really wide, and there are multiple grooves," McGrew said. "He generally likes to run the high line, and it's usually pretty fast. People that like to hunt around like Atlanta. Generally there is some place that you can make your car work there. It may be the bottom, it may be the top, it may be the middle or a combination. There are just a million different combinations, and he seems to enjoy finding the right one."

McGrew and the No. 88 team have prepared a new car for Earnhardt to pilot this weekend and he talked about what it will take for the car to reach Victory Lane.

"You have to have good aero balance," McGrew said. "The car needs to be able to work multiple grooves. It's a place that's been historically rough on equipment because it's rough and old so there are lots of things to consider -- it's not just one thing."

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