Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: "It's Daytona, so of course it's special to me and my team to go back there. We'd like to race with the car that's been sitting in that museum for a few months (the Daytona 500-winning car was...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
"It's Daytona, so of course it's special to me and my team to go back there. We'd like to race with the car that's been sitting in that museum for a few months (the Daytona 500-winning car was inducted into Daytona USA the morning after the race). Maybe I'll stop by and say 'hello' to it while I'm there, but we're pretty excited about the car we'll race. Daytona is different than Talladega (the other track on the NEXTEL Cup schedule with restrictor-plate engine rules) because it rewards a good handling car. Look at how the 500 developed - it was more spread out than in the past because good handling cars were able to pull away from the pack. I think you'll see more of that this weekend. The whole team needs to be prepared because you can't run around Daytona flat-out and wide-open the whole tire run. You need a car that will respond and handle in the corners. You can't just ride around in the draft like at Talladega..."
Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team return to Daytona for the first time since winning the Daytona 500 in February. It was the first of three NEXTEL Cup wins so far in 2004, and capped a Daytona Speedweeks that also saw Dale Jr. grab wins in the Twin-125 qualifying race and the Busch Series 300. He will do double-duty this weekend - making his final Busch Series appearance of the season Friday night - in an attempt to win at least four races at Daytona for the second year in a row.
Dale Jr. has nine wins in 27 career races at Daytona (non-points and 24-hour races included). He is tied for 10th (with Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon) in career wins at Daytona. He and his late father, seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, have won a combined 43 races at Daytona.
Dale Jr. won this event in 2001, leading 116 of 160 laps.
Dale Jr. is second in the Nextel Cup point standings, trailing Jimmie Johnson by 27 points. Through 16 races, the Bud team has recorded three wins (tied for series best), eight top-fives (second-most of any team) and 11 top-10s. Dale Jr. tied his career-best finish of 11th at Infineon Raceway on Sunday. It was his 13th finish of 11th or better in the first 16 races of 2004.
Daytona superlatives for the Bud Team:
-- Dale Jr. has finished seventh or better in the last three Pepsi 400s and in three of the last four Cup races at Daytona.
-- Dale Jr. has led in six of nine Cup races at Daytona for a total of 254 laps.
-- Dale Jr. has led laps in 19 of his 27 career races at Daytona (includes non-points events, Busch Series, and 24-hour races.) His team led this year's 24 Hours of Daytona for more than 17 hours before a parts failure with less than 20 minutes remaining cost him and teammates Tony Stewart and Andy Wallace a dominant victory.
-- Dale Jr.'s career NEXTEL Cup earnings at Daytona are $3,489,160.
-- The Bud team has started in the top-10 in each of the last five point races at Daytona and in seven of nine overall.
-- Dale Jr. has competed in 18 career restrictor-plate races, posting six victories and 12 top-10 finishes.
-- The Bud team has top-seven finishes in eight of the last nine restrictor-plate races, including a second-place finish at Talladega in April.
-- The red Budweiser Chevy has led laps in the last nine restrictor-plate races and in 14 of the last 15 (totaling 665 laps).
-- Dale Jr.'s 11.22 average finish in restrictor-plate races is second only to his father who had a 9.38 average finish in 53 career restrictor-plate races.
-- DEI drivers (Dale Jr. and Michael Waltrip) have won 10 of the last 14 restrictor-plate races.