So far this season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been having one of his best seasons to date in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as he has finished in the top 10 in 13 of the 17 races this season. He currently sits second in points, 11 points behind points leader Matt Kenseth.
Now heading to a track where Earnhardt Jr. has had success at in the past, its no surprise that his confidence is high. In 25 starts at Daytona, he has recorded two wins, nine top fives and 14 top 10s while leading 396 laps. He finished second back in February to Matt Kenseth.
Earnhardt Jr. says his plan for this weekend to get up front early and win the race that way.
"I just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about riding in the back," he says. "I think you could do it, if that is something you wanted to do. However I don’t plan on doing it. I never really plan on doing it."
He says, during the race, he may drop back if he sees something that ahead that may look like it will cause a wreck.
"You’re like, ‘Man, these guys are probably going to wreck; I don’t want to be right up behind it," he continues. "I can’t get around them because the track is four- or three-wide.’ So you move back a couple of hundred yards. I think it is poor judgment to think about it during the week, because you are not thinking about what you need to do to win the race. You are thinking about going backwards. That is not something I want to concentrate on.”
Beyond the Cup Series points races at Daytona, Earnhardt Jr. has showcased his dominance on the 2.5 mile oval. He has a total of 13 NASCAR wins at Daytona - two points Cup races (2001 Pepsi 400 and 2004 Daytona 500), two Budweiser Shootouts (2003 and 2008), three Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying races (2003, 2004 and 2008) and six Nationwide races. Four of the Nationwide Series victories were in a row in a span from 2002 to 2004.
Earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway, he finished ninth for his 27th top 10 on a Superspeedway in 50 starts. Steve LeTarte has made the decision to bring that same chassis to Daytona this weekend as this was also the same car they raced at Daytona in February.
It was the July race that he notched his first career win at Daytona as he led 116 laps before winning the July 7, 2001 running. With this year's race being ran on July 7th, could it be the lucky date that gives Earnhardt Jr. his second win of the season?