Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: "It's gut-check time, and the team is stepping up. We've had two pretty good runs the past two races. Indy didn't work out for us (blown tire on the final lap knocked Dale Jr. from sixth to...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
"It's gut-check time, and the team is stepping up. We've had two pretty good runs the past two races. Indy didn't work out for us (blown tire on the final lap knocked Dale Jr. from sixth to 27th in the Brickyard 400), but it was still a good run. We're not where we need to be, but I get the feeling we're heading that direction."
On the Michigan race:
"We tested Michigan for two days last week. The car was OK, but it seemed like the track had a lot more grip, and I'm not sure it will be that way this weekend. We worked on several things. Hopefully we can apply what we learned. We sure as hell don't have a lot to go off of from the last Michigan race (June 20). We finished 21st, but the car probably wasn't even that good. We put (spring) rubbers in to try to make it turn better, we took 'em out, we moved 'em from the back to the front, we took two tires... we did it all. When you do all that and it's still slow, then you know it's time to go test. So that's what we did."
Dale Jr. holds the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series track record at Michigan International Speedway (191.149 mph) set in his rookie season (2000). He picked up another one of his six career Bud Pole Awards there in Aug. 2002, making MIS the only track the Bud team has scored more than one Bud Pole Award. Dale Jr. has two top-10 finishes at MIS in 10 races, and has led there five times for 64 laps.
With four races to go before the "Chase for the Championship" begins, Dale Jr. remains in third place in the NEXTEL Cup championship standings, 128 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. The Bud team finished fifth at Watkins Glen on Sunday, its 10th top-five of the season and first in five races (the last was a third-place finish at Daytona on July 3).