LOUDON, N.H.—Dale Earnhardt Jr. is winless in his last 46 Sprint Cup starts. Last Sunday, his first race in the Chase ended with an engine failure.
Earnhardt is 13th of 13 drivers in the Chase standings, 53 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. Barring a miracle, he’s effectively out of the running for the series championship.
New Hampshire, however, may be his saving grace, based on Saturday morning’s Cup practice. In the first session, Earnhardt posted the second fastest lap at 132.406 mph, bettered only by Clint Bowyer’s 132.688 mph. In Happy Hour, NASCAR’s most popular driver topped the speed chart at 133.059 mph.
Earnhardt also had the fastest 10-lap average (131.627 mph) among 25 drivers who ran 10 or more consecutive laps in the first session. Yes, there’s a big difference between practice and the race itself, but that bodes well for Sunday’s Sylvania 300.