Dale Earnhardt Jr. is heading into the Atlanta race weekend with some added focus. After being collected up in a wreck that was not of his doing last week at Bristol Motor Speedway the famed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver says that he is hoping to do much better at the “ATL.” In fact, Earnhardt has something besides running laps for practice considering he’s already locked into the chase.
The driver, often voted most popular, joked with reporters during testing that he hoped that NASCAR hadn’t changed the point system yet:
"Those three bonus points for a win going into the Chase, they didn't change that, did they?”
He added that the race at Bristol was one in which he thought his car was strong and despite everything the team was going full speed ahead.
“We'd like to get some more bonus points if we can,” Earnhardt said while speaking about added points for drivers when the notch a win.
“We had a real strong car Saturday night (at Bristol), but anytime you don't finish well you want to kind of re-assert yourself and get the team’s confidence to where it needs to be going into the most important time of the season. So we're going to run as hard as we can."
Laying back no more
The renewed focus and energy is something that Earnhardt has shown over the course of the 2014 season. This desire to win and not just finish good or protect points is something that the driver said hit him after the spring race at Talladega.
Earnhardt’s fans voiced their disappointment on social media following the Talladega race when Earnhardt decided to stay in the back in order to avoid any late race wrecks. It was a move that he said that he regretted even though he had opened up the season with a win at the Daytona 500.
"I learned some lessons," Earnhardt said.
"You are never too old to be taught a lesson either. I definitely experienced that in Talladega this year. ... I forgot that there was a team behind me, and depending on me. Lot of fans there to see us race, showed up to spend hard-earned money, so it was a difficult thing to go through."
Atlanta by the Numbers
While the focus is high for Earnhardt heading into Atlanta he’s aware that it’s not been one of his best tracks as far as wins are concerned. But he’s done pretty well there over the years when you start looking at his Atlanta Motor Speedway stats. In the Sprint Cup series he has captured the checkered flag once and started on the pole twice since 1999.
But, he’s also had 12 top-ten finishes and only finished outside of the top-twenty three times. According to his stats his average starting position is just under the 16th spot and his average finish is right at the 12th position.