DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
"Short track racing is like walking through a minefield. You have to watch every move and be completely aware of what's going on around you. If you give the guy in front of you some room, you'll get booted from behind. You can get bit by a lot of things you didn't have anything to do with starting. We've been good here the last few years, but I want to improve that string of top-five finishes and get a win at this place.
"You have a few choices to make: you can choose to be fast through the middle of the corner and then not get as strong of an exit off the turns, or you can choose to hustle it into the turns, slow up in the middle and then try to get a straight run off the corners. I like to think it's better on a long run to work on making the car turn in the middle, but you risk having guys trying to be aggressive and dive-bomb you going into the corners. It seems like there's usually a few long green-flag runs at Martinsville, and I've always been lucky enough to take advantage of having a car that is better on the long runs. We even saw that at Bristol - we were better after 40 laps or so of green flag racing. We really needed the last 100 laps to stay green to close in on those boys at the front.
"The flat corners make it essential for the crew to make the right changes all day long. You can't rely on high-banked corners to catch the car. But, I like it because the driver can have more impact, knowing when to hustle the car or to take care of your equipment. I don't know what they did to the track there. It was really coming in good as a two-lane race track, but I think it'll be a one-lane groove on Sunday..."
SEASON OVERVIEW: Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team enter the sixth race of the season after a fourth-place finish at Bristol on Sunday. It was the Bud team's second top-five of the season, and moved Dale Jr. to 17th in the Nextel Cup championship point standings (an improvement of nine positions). Dale Jr. is now less than 100 points out of seventh position.
JUNIOR AT MARTINSVILLE: Dale Jr. has five top-5 finishes in his last six races at Martinsville Speedway, and has led a total of 452 laps there. Only a failed rear-end gear in the race last fall prevent him from extending what had been a series-best streak of five consecutive top-five tallies. Dale Jr. has qualified in the top-10 in each of the last eight races at the Virginia short track.
SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: In 2004, Dale Jr. scored more points (924) on short tracks (less than a mile in length) than any other driver for the third consecutive year, posting two victories and four top-10s. Junior has top-5 finishes in five of his last six short-track races. He also has nine top-10s in his last 12 events at venues less than a mile in length.