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Statistically Speaking

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Dale Earnhardt Jr. began the season with a bang.

No one was particularly surprised to see him finish third in the Daytona 500 especially after he won his Gatorade Duel earlier in the week. It was back-to-back top-fives at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway that really gave notice he would be one of the top contenders during the season, however.

Unfortunately, as the bandwagon formed for him, Earnhardt developed a pattern of inconsistency fr a short time with a crash-induced 43rd the following week at Phoenix International Raceway, followed by a sixth, 36th, third, and 16th in his next five races. at that point, he was a difficult driver to place-and-hold. The next week he finished 14th at Richmond International Raceway, but no one was concerned about him slipping in the points because Talladega SuperSpeedway was next on the schedule.

Earnhardt’s victory in the Geico 500 earned him a playoff berth and made him one of the most popular drivers for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. He finished second in the second ‘Dega race to sweep the top five on this track type, which made him a predictably good value.

Earnhardt’s third win of the season came at Phoenix in the next-to-last race of the year—and what is the most important about his victories is that each of them came as part of streaks totaling at least three consecutive top-10s. In the middle of the season, Earnhardt became a place-and-hold driver because when he missed the top spot it was often by narrow margins and he finished on the lead lap in 18 of 19 events from the spring Richmond rumble through the Chase kickoff at Chicagoland Speedway.

NASCAR is often filled with irony and after starting the season with two top-fives on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, it was back-to-back 20-something results at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway that kept him from advancing out of the Contender round. Notably, he finished third in both of those tracks’ first races.

Now that Jeff Gordon is gone from the organization, Earnhardt assumes the role of No. 2 driver and should get even more attention and resources than ever. Look for continued streaks of three or four top-10s and start him anytime he doubles down.   

 

Track

Career Avg.
Finish

Career Avg.
Start

Best
Finish

Career
Attempts

Race 1

Race 2

Atlanta Motor Speedway

11.96

15.79

1

28

3

 

Daytona International Speedway +

12.69

10.50

1

32

3

1

Bristol Motor Speedway

12.84

20.97

1

32

16

9

Martinsville Speedway

12.91

14.69

1

32

36

4

Richmond International Raceway

13.24

16.76

1

33

14

5

Texas Motor Speedway *

13.85

12.07

1

27

3

6

Darlington Raceway

14.00

17.52

2

21

8

 

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

14.06

19.63

2

16

4

 

Kentucky Speedway

14.40

15.20

4

5

21

 

Talladega SuperSpeedway +

14.66

15.41

1

32

1

2

Pocono Raceway

14.81

14.75

1

32

11

4

Michigan International Speedway *

15.06

14.58

1

33

2

10

Chicagoland Speedway

15.27

16.93

1

15

12

 

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

15.27

16.53

3

33

5

25

Dover Downs International

15.72

14.78

1

32

14

3

Kansas Speedway

16.16

14.05

2

19

3

21

Phoenix International Raceway

16.52

16.41

1

27

43

1

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

18.81

16.69

4

16

22

 

Auto Club Speedway

18.96

19.39

2

23

6

 

Charlotte Motor Speedway

19.19

15.22

3

32

3

28

Sonoma Raceway

19.44

20.94

3

16

7

 

Watkins Glen International

21.69

16.63

3

16

11

 

Homestead - Miami Speedway

22.69

20.38

3

13

40

 

Inactive Tracks

Homestead - Miami Speedway - old

16.33

10.33

13

3

 

 

North Carolina Speedway

24.67

20.67

5

9

 

 

 

+ Top-five sweeps
* Top-10 sweeps

8. Jimmie Johnson 
9. Denny Hamlin 
10. Martin Truex Jr. 
11. Kyle Larson 
12. Carl Edwards 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.