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Earnhardt relishes 'laid-back' Talladega

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Saturday, May 02 1861
For Dale Earnhardt Jr. "Friday and Saturday are easy" when it comes to Talladega Superspeedway.

Sunday, not so much.

Earnhardt, a five-time Sprint Cup winner at Talladega, acknowledged on the eve of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 race (1 p.m. ET on FOX) that a certain burden comes with his role as crowd favorite here.

"I feel like I'm supposed to get up there and lead," Earnhardt said. "I feel like that's a real disappointment for a lot of people when we don't finish well, if we're not up in the battle trying at the end.

"If we're not in that group crossing the finish line that's up front, I feel that disappointment from all the supporters of our team. More so here and Daytona than other race tracks, for sure."

Earnhardt has well-documented success on restrictor plate tracks, with his 14 top-10 finishes here in 30 starts and three wins, 18 top 10s in 31 Daytona starts.

Actually, though, "I like short-track racing," Earnhardt said. He considers Martinsville and Bristol his favorite tracks.

That said, "I look forward to Daytona and Talladega the most," he said, "because they're so laid-back and there's really not a lot of work done. The cars don't handle, so you just get in and mash it wide-open and practice for a couple of days.

"I haven't had to do a lot the last couple of days so it's like a little bit of a break in the middle of the season. This is really low-stress. I look forward to these weekends more to get a little break in the hecticness of how this season goes."

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