(WOMR file photo)
The Coke Zero 400 at the world famous Daytona International Speedway marks the halfway point of the 2014 season, and the first time that the series has made a return engagement to a previously ran race track in 2014. With the very consistent, and extremely strong, season so far for the Hendrick Motorsports #88 Chevy, could Dale Earnhardt, Jr. put his name in the NASCAR history books beside the select few who have swept the Daytona races in a single season?
For Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s a chance to become just the sixth driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 and the July Daytona race in the same season.
The list of drivers who’ve swept Daytona is impressive, but very exclusive: Fireball Roberts (1962); Cale Yarborough (1968); LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969); Bobby Allison (1982); and Jimmie Johnson (2013). Did you notice that not even “The King”, Richard Petty, nor “The Silver Fox”, David Pearson, ran the table at Daytona! Lest we forget that the two above mentioned drivers are numbers 1 and 2 in total wins in NASCAR.
In the first 17 races of this year, Junior has an extremely strong record. The HMS #88 National Guard Chevy has two (2) wins, (one of those wins is this year’s Daytona 500), nine (9) top fives, and twelve (12) top ten finishes so far. With those kinds of stats it is not a stretch, by any imagination, that Earnhardt, Jr. could have a great chance of running the table at Daytona this year.
Earnhardt is in the midst of what could be his best season ever! This season he has won multiple races for the first time since 2004 and leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine top-five finishes, just one shy of his total for all of last season. There’s no question that Earnhardt is feeling it this year. It is reflected in his demeanor, his swagger, and especially in the statistics!
Of course, part of Earnhardt’s success might be a sense of urgency. This is the last year Steve Letarte will be his crew chief before moving to the NBC television booth as a race analyst next year.
So tune in Saturday night on your TV, because the Sprint Cup will be under the lights, the rough side will be dragging, the big dog will be eating, the sparks will be flying, and when it is all said and done, the HMS #88 National Guard Chevy just may be leading the pack to the checkered flag!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!