Dale Jr. quotes for Daytona Speedweeks. About Daytona International Speedway: "I don't exactly remember the first time I came here, but the first I can recall was when Greg Sacks won. (Firecracker 400, July 4, 1985. Dale Jr. was 10 years old.)...
Dale Jr. quotes for Daytona Speedweeks.
About Daytona International Speedway: "I don't exactly remember the first time I came here, but the first I can recall was when Greg Sacks won. (Firecracker 400, July 4, 1985. Dale Jr. was 10 years old.) I watched it in that little scoring stand down there in turn one. That's where all the kids and wives went. The first time you came in here, you didn't see it all. Every time you come in here you see something different - just because this place is so big. It's a good feeling [being there].
"When you come [to Daytona], you can't get here fast enough. And then when you leave, you drive out real slow - getting every little last bit you can because it's going to be too long before you come back. I love it. This place is a great racetrack with a lot of history. It has such an impact on the sport. There are other tracks on the circuit that are important to NASCAR and that are cornerstones and the foundation. But this place here is a pillar. This place really represents everything that I like about the sport. I really like coming here."
About being considered one of the favorites to win the Daytona 500:
"Great... it's a great feeling. I like it a lot. I think we should be favorites, based on performance the last few years. I like walking into the garage on the first day and holding my head high because the DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) teams are the ones to beat on superspeedways. It's almost like we have half the field psyched-out before we start. It also means a lot in the race, because a lot of other drivers want to work with you or draft with you because they know you're going to the front.
"All of that [success] doesn't just happen: it's a lot... an awful lot of work by a lot of people.. Richie Gilmore (DEI chief engine builder) has been putting together some super horsepower for all three of our teams, and all of my guys in the Bud shop 0x2022 like Tony (Eury, crew chief) and Tony Jr. (Eury, car chief) 0x2022 really spend a lot of time working on our superspeedway package. I enjoy these [restrictor plate] races, and so do they, so it just gives us that attitude and the motivation to work harder at these races."
About the new body style for the 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Getting this new body figured out on the speedway is going to be a little bit of a handicap for us, getting the car to draft well and all that. We really had the old one (the previous Monte Carlo body) figured out, so this is just like starting over. It's just like it was when we were rookies. But, Tony Jr. has always been a whiz with the bodies for the speedways. Daddy won five in a row here with those boys in the Busch Series. So, I think we'll get it figured out."
Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Team at Daytona
Previous Winston Cup Starts: 6
(does not include Budweiser Shootout or 125-mile qualifiers)
Best Start: 5th (2002 Daytona 500)
Best Finish: 1st (2001 Pepsi 400)
Daytona 500, Last Year:
(Two flat tires knocked the team out of contention and into several wild crashes.)
Budweiser Shootout: In two Bud all-star events, Dale Jr. has finished sixth (2001) and second (2002).
Twin 125 Qualifier: Dale Jr. has three previous starts, finishing fourth (2000), second (2001) and second (2002).
*** Motivation: Last season, Dale Jr. invited college football coaching legend Lou Holtz to give a pre-season motivational speech to the 220-plus employees of DEI. This year, he chose to gather the troops to watch "Stroker Ace," the stock car racing-themed Burt Reynolds movie. The 1983 film included cameos from Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty and Benny Parsons among other notable NASCAR faces. "It's a great movie, a real classic... (pause for dramatic effect) It is... Really!" enthused Dale Jr.
*** DEI Dominates: Since the start of 2001, there have been eight restrictor-plate races on the Winston Cup circuit. In those races, Junior has four victories, a second place and six top-eight finishes, while his teammate Michael Waltrip has two victories of his own.
*** I Second That: Dale Jr. finished second in last year's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona as well as second place in his 125-mile qualifying race. In the 500, he was running easily in second place behind teammate Michael Waltrip when a blown tire sent the No. 8 car into the wall. Dale Jr. has also recorded second place finishes in the 2001 Daytona 500 and his 125-mile qualifier in 2001.
***That's Ludacris: Dale Jr. hung out with rap star Ludacris earlier this week during a photo shoot for the cover of COMPLEX Magazine, a new upscale, urban-oriented magazine devoted to cars, music, women and all things cool. Dale Jr. has long been a fan of Ludacris, while the rap star has been a fan of NASCAR and Dale Jr. in particular. Ludacris, who posed alongside Junior and his Budweiser race car, has a prominent role in the upcoming sequel to the "Fast and the Furious" feature film.
Bud Pole Qualifying:
The Budweiser Shootout starting line-up is determined in a drawing held Thursday, Feb. 6.
Bud Pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 can be seen live Sunday, Feb. 9 at 1:00 p.m. on the Fox-TV and heard on MRN affiliates across the nation. The majority of the field for the Daytona 500 will be set based on finishing positions in twin 125-mile races on Thursday, Feb. 13. (All Times: Eastern)