TALLADEGA, Ala. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. said last week that fans had better get used to the idea of Jeff Gordon's winning No. 77 and overtaking his late father's victory total.

That could come at Talladega Superspeedway today, where a Dale Earnhardt-loving Talladega crowd has never been fond of Gordon.

"It's going to happen regardless, whether they like it or not, whether I like it or who likes it," Earnhardt said. "Congratulations to however many more he wins. If he gets up there and ties Bobby [Allison], pulls into third place, who knows what he can do? I definitely see him getting more wins. That's just a product of his success and his ability."

Junior also said he hopes fans won't respond with a hail of beer cans as they have in the past when they didn't like finishes at Talladega.

"I don't feel comfortable with beer cans flying on the race track at any point in time, to be honest with you," he said. "You see a lot of them that are full, half-full, hitting people because they're not making it over the fence, knocking people in the back of the head. I've seen that happen on occasion. It's a dangerous business. I don't think it's cool."

He suggested that fans throw toilet paper to show their displeasure, an idea that brought a chuckle from Gordon.

"Sounds to me like there's going to be plenty of toilet paper being thrown," Gordon said.

Earnhardt said that if fans insist on hurling beer cans, they should find a different target.

"Go out in the parking lot and flail a couple beers at your car," he said.

Flawed system. Michael Waltrip has failed to qualify for seven of the eight NASCAR Nextel Cup races this season, and he believes the system now being used to select the fields is somewhat flawed.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner, now also owner of a three-car, first-year team, says he has a better idea.

"They ought to draw for qualifying, like they do now," Waltrip said. "Then, the top 35 go out one through 35. Then you've got this drama built."

-Inquirer Wire Services