Chicagoland: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: What are your thoughts heading to Chicagoland Speedway? "The biggest challenge at Chicago is getting good track position, because it's really hard to pass there. The further back you are, ...

Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:

What are your thoughts heading to Chicagoland Speedway?

"The biggest challenge at Chicago is getting good track position, because it's really hard to pass there. The further back you are, the more aero-push becomes a factor. We could do ourselves a favor by qualifying well. We'd be better if we could make it to the end in one piece. One time we were runnin' along and a chunk of metal came flying off of someone's car, and we ended up crashing. Last year we got caught up in someone else's mess, but still finished on the lead lap. An uneventful day is what we need."

"We have to dig pretty deep here to see if we can't make some gains in the next couple of races. You never know. Before the Chase was around, there were a couple years I was racing in the Cup series where you didn't think that anybody wanted to win the thing, because it seemed that whoever got the lead would have a couple of weeks of trouble. It kept racing pretty tight."

Was a third-place finish in Daytona what the team needed?

"It's hard to get excited about third place, but it was nice to get a podium finish. I was real happy with the car my guys gave me, and just as much credit goes to the 15 team and Tony (Eury) Jr. They helped us a lot on the set-up. Michael (Waltrip) would've been right up there with us without the cut tire. That was unfortunate for him, but we'll all keep digging. It's the way it ought to be."

2005 SEASON OVERVIEW:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the Chicagoland race weekend 17th in the Nextel Cup standings (1,872 points) after equaling their season-best finish (3rd) at Daytona on Saturday. Dale Jr. is 106 points out of Chase eligibility and 158 out of the top-10. The third-place finish at Daytona Saturday night was the Bud team's fourth top-five and sixth top-10 in 2005.

ON DECK FOR THIS WEEKEND:

Dale Jr.'s #8 Budweiser Chevrolet will carry a red and blue paint scheme promoting the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star game (July 12 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Mich.) This will mark the fifth straight year that Budweiser, the official beer of NASCAR and Major League Baseball, will run a special MLB paint-scheme on its #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. race car. Dale Jr. will also participate in 2005 All-Star activities, as the Budweiser Clydesdales will transport him to Comerica Park on Monday, July 11, prior to the home run derby.

CHICAGOLAND TIDBITS:

In four starts at Chicagoland Speedway, Dale Jr.'s best finish is 10th (July 14, 2002). On that day he led four times for 81 laps but fell victim to untimely cautions. Last season, the Budweiser Chevy was included in a multi-car accident early in the race, but rapid repair work enabled the Brew Crew to finish 22nd on the lead lap.

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Series NASCAR-CUP