Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Haven't we seen this movie before ... like in 2006, '08 and '09?
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<p> Jimmie Johnson tightens his grip of the top spot in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings after his win at the Brickyard.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson (—)  Johnson has had two crashes in 2012, resulting in 42nd- and 36th-place finishes and one engine failure, leading to a 35th-place run. Otherwise, he’s been 12th or better every week.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (—)  Junior has been nearly as good as his Hendrick teammate through 20 races, with 17th- and 23rd-place runs the only blemishes outside of the top 15.

Johnson Wins at the Brickyard

Jimmie Johnson dominates, scores fourth victory at Indianapolis
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<p> Jimmie Johnson dominated NASCAR's Brickyard 400, scoring his fourth career Sprint Cup win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

It took Jimmie Johnson only 29 laps to steer his No. 48 Chevrolet to the front of the field in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. Once there, he rarely looked back, leading 99 of the final 131 laps to score his fourth Sprint Cup Series win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Johnson, who qualified sixth, also gave Chevrolet its 10th straight win at the famed auto racing venue, while team owner Rick Hendrick scored his eighth win at IMS in NASCAR’s 19 visits.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Jimmie Johnson leads the pack (but don't tell Chad Norris)
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<p> Jimmie Johnson leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes a weekend off.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  A Daytona crash is the only blemish on Johnson’s stat sheet since mid-May. Indianapolis is typically the event that Johnson, Chad Knaus & crew use as a jumping off point for the Chase.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  According to Junior's buddy Mike Davis, Earnhardt has completed the first 5,488 laps this season, a record in NASCAR’s Modern Era. He also has 20 consecutive lead lap finishes, dating back to 2011.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Smoke rising through the carnage of Daytona
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<p> Matt Kenseth leads Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads north to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

1. Matt Kenseth   Kenseth was the man to beat at Daytona for a second straight trip, although the fortunes of plate racing found him third by night’s end. Still, RFR is the team to beat on the plate tracks.

2. Jimmie Johnson   Johnson’s 2012 plate racing results: 42nd, 35th and 36th. In fact, his plate stats over the last few years — outside of a Talladega win — aren’t that impressive. Speaks more to the style of racing than the driver.

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Packs vs. tandems, tradition vs. change, shortened races and 2012 surprises
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<p> The&nbsp;Backseat Drivers Fan Council discuss tradition vs. change, tandem rdafting vs. pack racing, shortening races, 2012 surprises and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.</p>
2012

Tradition vs. Change. Shorten races vs. keeping them the same. Tandem drafting vs. pack racing. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council faced many choices with this week’s NASCAR survey.

There was more, including what has been the biggest surprise of the season to how they graded last weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Daytona. The opinions vary — and in some cases are quite strong. Here’s what the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had to say about these issues.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Daytona

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Saturday's Coke Zero 400
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<p> Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkorses for your Fantasy NASCAR team as the series heads to Dayttona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400.</p>
2012

Here's hoping all the NASCAR fantasy players out there had a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday. After a week of firework displays around this great nation, the grand finale will come Saturday night under the lights at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 — let's just keep Juan Pablo Montoya away from any jet dryers, OK?

10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Contenders and Pretenders

Drivers and teams to watch as the circuit hits its mid-summer classic in Daytona
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese runs through the contenders and the pretenders for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.</p>
2012

Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway (please don’t call it the Pepsi 400 — Firecracker 400, however, will be accepted) marks the halfway point in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

From the Bluegrass to the Beach
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<p> Jimmie Johnson leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  Lost a shot at the win during the final restart in Kentucky when he picked up trash on his tires. Managed to rebound to sixth after a quick backslide, his 13th top 10 of the season.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Was never a factor for the win at Kentucky, but ran consistently in the top 10 most of the evening before climbing to fourth at race’s end.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Filling in the gaps left by TNT
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<p> Jimmie Johnson finds his way back atop Athlon Sports' weekly NASCAR Horsepower Rankings, besting Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  It’s a toss up at the top, but J.J. has more wins and, as evidenced by his top-5 run at Sonoma, is a more well-rounded driver than Earnhardt or Kenseth.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.   That said, championships are not won on road courses, so Junior’s 23rd-place showing — to be fair, he ran around 15th most of the day — will not hurt his title quest.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Sonoma

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Sonoma.</p>
2012

After two weeks of high speeds and flat out racing, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the twists and turns of Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The 12-turn, 1.99-mile road course is the first test for the teams this season as they turn left and right.

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