NASCAR & Auto Racing

There's no reason to hold back now, it's Talladega

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says at this point, it's time "to go for broke."

With Sunday's Amp Energy 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway looming next on the schedule, that could produce a big payoff for NASCAR's most popular driver.

Earnhardt Jr., like his father - the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt - before him, relishes NASCAR's four restrictor-plate races each season, in large part because of tremendous success both enjoyed in this style of racing.

"My dad was a real good plate racer. So I loved going to the plate tracks to watch and to be a part of his success," Earnhardt Jr. said.

"You always knew going into Daytona or Talladega, if you were at the track or at home watching, that you were going to have a lot of fun because he always ran well, led laps, made a lot of incredible moves."

The senior Earnhardt - who won 13 Cup races at Daytona and Talladega - made moves on these tracks that would sometimes leave fans and competitors gasping. Earnhardt Jr. has enjoyed similar success, with two wins at Daytona and five at Talladega in his nine seasons, but none since 2004.

"I mean, I probably left that race track (Talladega) just as angry as anybody else. I mean, it doesn't always give you what you want," Earnhardt Jr. said. "But I think it's such a unique type of style of driving and style of racing, it's neat to switch it up a little bit.

"It's not so much about how the car handles or how really good your car is, it's about the guy who's making the right moves and teaming up with the right team. It's pretty fun to be able to push a friend into the lead, get help from a buddy of yours to get a lead. Things like that going on throughout the day.

"I like being three- and four-wide, making the best of it."

For many of the 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the Talladega race is considered the biggest "wild card" simply because anything - and everything - can happen, including gigantic pile-ups.

With seven races remaining in the Chase, Earnhardt Jr. is eighth in points, 190 behind leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

"I think as far as our position now in the Chase, we just kind of got to go for broke, really throw it out there and take some chances, really take some risks. I don't know if we can take any more than we're taking now," he said.

"At Talladega you can make some pretty ridiculous moves, and some of them pay off, some of them don't. We'll just have to see what kind of position we're in on any given lap to be able to try to take advantage of some things happening around us."

One thing that has changed with plate racing is the car. Last year's fall race at Talladega was the first on a restrictor-plate track for NASCAR's new Cup car.

"We continue to learn how the car drafts," Eanrhardt Jr. said. "It drafts a little bit differently.

"You can do things a little bit differently with the way the cars' bumpers match up,” he said. "You can draft a little bit harder with each other through the corner, all the way around the race track.

"Hopefully, as long as NASCAR doesn't mind and get too nervous, we'll be pushing each other all the way around the race track this weekend, just like we were last time. You'll see guys jump out, two guys get out 25 car lengths in front of the pack.

"It's really worthless because the pack just runs you back down. But it's fun. Something new to do so we're all doing it."

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