If fans want to see a man on a mission during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – with an amazing savings package named in his honor – they won’t have to look any further than five-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
With the track’s “Two for $88” Dale Jr. Ticket Package, for an incredible price, fans can witness 43 drivers battle it out on the biggest and baddest race track on the planet, and NASCAR’s Most Competitive facility. The special offer gives fans a $32 savings off the regular price of two Lincoln Grandstand tickets to the Sunday, October 19 GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race – the pivotal sixth race of The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The offer is for a limited time, ending in just one week on Friday, August 29.
The GEICO 500 will be the sixth race of the new Chase and final event of the Contender Round, in which the field of 12 drivers eligible for the title will be reduced to eight. Earnhardt, Jr., currently second in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, will eagerly return to the 2.66-mile venue to avenge a disappointing weekend in May. In the latter stages, mired outside the top 20 after a fuel stop, Earnhardt drifted back in the pack to avoid a possible wreck, but late-race circumstances prevented him from being able to make a calculated late-race charge. He tallied a 26th-place effort, a result that didn’t sit well with NASCAR’s Most Popular driver.
“The way we ran and what I chose to do at the end of that race is just really uncharacteristic of anybody that is in the field and trying to compete,” Jr. said of the Aaron’s 499 in May. “I just got really frustrated with the way things were working out for us. I lost sight of the overall big picture, what you are out there trying to do, who all is out there depending on you to do it, and what you need to do. Lot of fans there to see us race, showed up to spend hard-earned money, so it was a difficult thing to go through. I learned some lessons. You are never too old to be taught a lesson either. I definitely experienced that in Talladega this year.”
Known for constant three and four-wide action 10 or more rows deep, racing at Talladega Superspeedway mid pack or further back can make it extremely difficult to maneuver to the front. Sometimes, there just isn’t anywhere to go, and if you do get a shot to move forward, a car in front of you can alter a driver’s momentum in a split second, thus preventing a driver in making up any ground. Such was the case for Dale Jr. in the spring, despite leading three times for 26 laps.
“You have to get that track position and you have got to be first,” added Jr., who has five wins at Talladega, including a record four straight from 2001-2003. “When everybody is done pitting, you don’t want to have to drive through the pack. It’s hard to pass and you get boxed in. So what happens is that you need to be putting fuel in your car as often as you can so that the last time you have to come down pit road to get in that window, you only need to put a few gallons in the car to reach that window.
“It’s where most of the field is putting 12 to 22 gallons in on that stop and you are only putting in what you need, and you beat them off pit road. And there you are – in position to win – as long as you, as a driver, can maintain that track position over the restarts and all the things that are going to go on over that run. So we know we need to do it that way, it’s just hopefully everything else falls in place that way such as the cautions and everything else.”
Just a year ago in Talladega’s GEICO 500, the cautions didn’t fly Earnhardt, Jr.’s way. Running second to Jamie McMurray, he had a plan for the pass during the final mile, but an accident behind him brought out the yellow flag and he settled for second. The last time Jr. won a race at Talladega in the fall was 2004. That year, he also won the season-opening Daytona 500. Flash forward 10 years – he won this year’s Daytona 500. Can history repeat itself at Talladega as well? It would be huge, especially after what happened in May, for Earnhardt, Jr., who has a tremendous desire to get back into Victory lane at a track that is special to his heart.
“I always feel confident when we come here that we are going to have a good car,” Earnhardt, Jr. said at a recent Talladega event. “But this racetrack is really a special race track, just in general, to the sport. I think the history of this place and just how it was conceived, and how the track eventually turned into one of the most impressive and unique, concerning speed, and how the style of racing that you have is so unique, it’s just amazing what this place has been able to deliver year after year. I do enjoy coming here and I remember this was one of my favorites as a kid.
“When I was young, out of all the tracks that I had the chance to go to, this was definitely one of my favorites to come to. Milling around in the garage during the race and just how big the place was and the cars looked different because of the superspeedway bodies and it was just a really fun experience for me. And this was actually the first track that I drove on aside from Myrtle Beach,” added the Hendrick Motorsports driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet.
“It is a real special place. My dad won a lot of races (10) here and I’ve had the fortune of being able to get to Victory Lane several times. I think this place will just continue to deliver, year after year, long after I’m gone. It’s just an impressive track and I really enjoy it. It makes it fun to come here knowing you’ve got a lot of people excited to see you run.”
And, those fans – whether they are loyal Dale Jr. fans or not – can watch the GEICO 500 for the incredible “Two for $88” ticket package, a savings of $32, and join in on the post season action. The results at Talladega are always wildly unpredictable, but fans can be certain Earnhardt Jr., who will be looking for redemption, and the rest of the 43-driver field, won’t hold back because, after all, a win in the GEICO 500 guarantees advancement to the Eliminator Round of eight. It is a “Must See” event.
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