By: Toby Christie – @Toby_Christie
It has been a rough curtain call season so far for Dale Earnhardt Jr. After 16 races, the 42-year-old driver is mired 22nd in points, but he is riding the momentum of two straight top-10 finishes heading into possibly his best track — Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt always seems to be a factor when it comes down to the win at restrictor plate races, and this time around — possibly his final race at Daytona — he has a really fast car.
Earnhardt paced happy hour on Thursday, and Kurt Busch who won the season-opening Daytona 500 is among those taking notice of Earnhardt’s No. 88 machine.
“Yes, this could be Dale’s last time in a top Monster Energy Series car at Daytona. It’s going to be a good battle,” said Busch. “I guarantee he’s going to be elbows up, sleeves up, and he will be the car to beat this weekend.”
Thursday night, Earnhardt — as well as most of NASCAR Nation — relived his triumph in the 2004 Daytona 500 in a special throwback airing on NBCSN.
Earnhardt has four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points-paying wins at the 2.5-mile Florida superspeedway, and overall Earnhardt has gone to Gatorade Victory Lane at the facility an astonishing 17 times. He will look for one more in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400.
If Earnhardt can find his way to the front and win one last time at Daytona, expect an electric atmosphere from the crowd in attendance.
Photo credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images