Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Race Preview Dale Jr. Quotes for the Dodge Dealers 400 "I'm still learning about Darlington. I know that a lot of the veteran drivers have an advantage on me and the other young guys because it's a really tough track to...
Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Race Preview
Dale Jr. Quotes for the Dodge Dealers 400
"I'm still learning about Darlington. I know that a lot of the veteran drivers have an advantage on me and the other young guys because it's a really tough track to get around for an entire race. We ALMOST had a really good finish there in the last race until we were wrecked at the end, but even after that, it's tough to be positive and look forward to a track where you know going in that you're going to struggle with the tire wear from the start until the finish. It hurts me to be inexperienced there because it's one of those places where it's really tough to get a good finish."
<pre> Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Bud Team at Darlington Winston Cup Starts: 4 Best Start: 10th (Spring, 2000) Best Finish: 11th (Fall, 2000) This Race, Last Year: St: 16th Fin: 34th </pre> The Bud team has not recorded a top-10 finish in its first four Winston Cup races at Darlington, and Dale Jr. is quite open of his disdain for the ragged, aging pavement on the historic oval. (Track management made light of his comments last fall when they presented him with the "Shelly" trophy, mocking his reference to the jagged bits of seashells that remain on the racing surface.) However, the team and the young driver had seemingly overcome their feelings during last fall's race. They were contending for a top-three finish when they were taken out in a multi-car crash with two laps to go. They also nearly stole the fall race in 2000, when savvy pit strategy and on-again, off-again rainstorms nearly gave them a victory.
What to Watch
Dale Jr. and the team showed signs of busting out of their Darlington doldrums last September, so look for them to be more competitive this weekend than in seasons past at the historic old oval. Their second-place run Sunday afternoon at Atlanta also has team confidence at a new level following a rough and unlucky start to the 2002 season.