Bristol Always Special to Earnhardt Jr.
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on March 17, 2012 | 10:45 A.M. EST
"I’ve done pretty well here, and been pretty consistent at Bristol. I look forward to continuing that this weekend." (Photo: Getty Images)
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Bristol Motor Speedway has always been special to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he would like nothing more than to end a 132-race winless streak with his second victory at the track in Sunday's Food City 500.
Earnhardt Jr. is reminded about his 2004 win in the August race quite often as it's one of just a few of his trophies he keeps in his house from his 18 career Sprint Cup Series wins.
"I just wanted one of those trophies, really. I was really glad to get one," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It is right there in my living room. I don’t have many trophies in my house, but that’s one of them that is there. It was really even sweeter to have the opportunity to sweep the weekend like we did with the Nationwide win the day before.”
One of the reasons Earnhardt Jr. wanted a Bristol trophy so much is because of watching his father's success at the track where captured nine of them, the last coming in 1999.
“That was a big deal to me because I had seen those trophies in my house all my life," Earnhardt Jr. said. "They were the biggest trophies you could bring home. They were bigger than even the championship trophy. I admired the track for how tough it was; and how tenacious the races were; and how hard the driving was; how difficult it was on drivers. It is just such a unique race track. One-of-a-kind."
Sunday's 500-lap race will mark Earnhardt Jr's ninth start at Bristol with Hendrick Motorsports. He owns an 11.7 average finish with 12 top 10s in 24 overall starts.
"This is a good track for me," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I’ve done pretty well here, and been pretty consistent at Bristol. I look forward to continuing that this weekend.”
Earnhardt Jr. is currently ranked fourth in the Sprint Cup standings after a solid start in the first three races in 2012.
“The season has started off really good, Earnhardt Jr. said. "We had a good run at Daytona. Struggled a little bit at Phoenix, but we still got a decent finish out of it. Had a pretty good car last week. We just stayed out of trouble. Some other guys have had some difficulties; we’ve been able to capitalize on that, and get a pretty good spot in the point standings after three weeks."
Last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. led more laps (70) than he did all last season (52) before finishing 10th in the end.
“I think I was disappointed that we didn’t come away with a better finish," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We ran good there last year. So, when I got out there and led the first part of the race, I wasn’t as surprised as the rest of the world was. I felt like that was how we wanted to run; could run there. I was disappointed that we finished where we did, because we let a lot of cars that we had out-run all day beat us. That is really frustrating.
The Vegas race also saw Earnhardt and Mark Martin, who is not racing at Bristol, tangle on the track.
“Me and Mark handled our little issue immediately after we got home," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I feel pretty good that we got that sorted out.”
Earnhardt Jr. was 12th fastest in both the second and final practice sessions on Saturday.