Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: Your thoughts going to the final race at Homestead: "We were pretty happy leaving the test session there last week. We tried a lot of things; some worked, some didn't, but I think we...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
Your thoughts going to the final race at Homestead: "We were pretty happy leaving the test session there last week. We tried a lot of things; some worked, some didn't, but I think we found stuff to be fast. I'm happy this is an impound race. We can start immediately in race trim on Friday (practice) and see what we got. Homestead is a great track, but we've never hit on the set-up before. It's been one of our least successful tracks on the circuit, so we've got a lot to prove. I know Tony (Eury) Jr. feels that way, too. We need to run in the top-five so we can get that gorilla off our back. It's important to finish the season strong. It would do a lot for our confidence, and it would make the off-season a heckuva lot better."
As the co-owner of Chance 2 Racing, what are your thoughts as your team and driver, Martin Truex Jr., go after a second consecutive Busch Series championship?
"When he was winning all those races last year, I could say to Martin, 'Yeah, come talk to me when you've won two championships.' (Dale Jr. is the last driver to win consecutive Busch Series titles, in 1998 and '99.) Well, maybe I shouldn't have said that, because he's one race away from being able to say, 'OK, now what?' It's been fun watching him and Clint Bowyer battle for the points lead. Great racing all year by both those guys. I'm happy for Martin and Bono (crew chief Kevin Manion) and the whole Chance 2 team for putting themselves in a position to run for the championship. They have a 64-point lead. That's not enough to make anyone feel comfortable, but I like their chances."
Your plans for the off-season?
"If Martin wins the championship, I'm sure we'll have a big party somewhere. If he doesn't, hell, we'll probably still have the party. Thanksgiving is next week, so wherever we go, it probably won't be for too long. The Earnhardts do Thanksgiving up right. I don't wanna miss that."
BUDWEISER QUICK NOTES: Dale Jr. enters the final race of the 2006 season 20th in the Nextel Cup point standings. Through 35 events, the Budweiser team has scored one victory (Chicagoland Speedway), seven top-fives and 13 top-10s.J
HOMESTEAD TIDBITS: Dale Jr.'s best finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway is 13th (Nov., 2000) but his best performance was in 2002 when he started second and led 46 laps before a broken valve spring dropped the No. 8 Chevy to seven cylinders. He finished that race 21st. This year on 1.5-mile tracks, the Budweiser team has four top-10 finishes, including a win at Chicagland Speedway on July 9. Three of those top-10 finishes came during night races. The Homestead finale will begin in sunlight but end in darkness.
TV and RADIO ALERT: CNBC will feature Dale Jr. during the "On the Money" program Friday night at 7:00 pm. ET. The segment will also be seen on "Dollars and Sport" on CNBC, Thanksgiving morning at 9:30 am and again at 2:30 pm ET.
Dale Jr. will also be a guest on Motor Racing Networks "NASCAR Live with Eli Gold" this Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. ET.