It's been 100 races since Dale Earnhardt Jr has visited victory lane, with his last win coming in June of 2008 when he took the checkered flag at Michigan. However, if there was a ever a track he is likely to break that streak on, it's Talladega. Earnhardt has won five times in 22 starts at Talladega, which is the second most of any active driver. Jeff Gordon has six wins and just so happens to sit on the pole this week.
Earnhardt has led 698 laps in his career at Talladega, including having led at some point in 20 of his 22 races there. He's run well all year, posting four top 10 finishes and had a good week qualifying fourth. Earnhardt knows he has a a car that can win today and doesn't want a repeat of Daytona.
"I definitely don't want to have the same issues we had at Daytona where we had a really good car and didn't take advantage of that and get the finish that we deserved," said Earnhardt, who is not a fan of two-car drafts. "I'll probably try to take care of my car a little better during the race. It is a very long race."
Earnhardt was asked to grade his 2011 season so far.
"I'd give it about a C-plus or a B-minus," he said. "We're doing better than we were last year. We've got a couple more gains to make on our finishing position. I think across the board, we could do just a little bit better, performance-wise, and we're working hard, trying to keep up our momentum and improve. I think we've got all the pieces of the puzzle and getting them in the right place."
A C-plus might be harsh for a guy that currently sits in sixth in the Sprint Cup series standings, just 21 points off the lead. There's no doubt that a win at Talladega today would bump that grade up in his mind.