Phoenix: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...

DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:

On having nine career victories at the next three tracks on the schedule:
"Obviously we like this stretch of the schedule -- Phoenix, Talladega and Richmond. Those are tracks we've done well at in the past (Dale Jr. has nine Cup victories and 17 top-fives at those three venues), so it's important we keep that going. But our goal isn't just to run well at the tracks we've traditionally had success at. We've got to be in the groove all the time, every weekend, every track. I'm more concerned about the summer stretch of races, places like Michigan and Pocono. Those are the tracks we need to do well at if we're going to stay in the top-10."

On racing at PIR:
"I've always liked it. It's very unique with its configuration, and requires a lot of discipline as a driver. There are so many opportunities to pass there it's real easy to lose focus and overdrive the corners. It's a mile long but it drives like a short track, and we've always been good on short tracks. Turn four is everything there. If you butcher (turn) four, it ruins your whole lap and part of your next lap. That's where we've been so good in the past -- getting that big run off of four. The times we won there, nobody could touch us coming off that turn."

On the experience of shooting a ESPN SportsCenter commercial last week:
"Maybe the most fun I've ever had shooting a commercial. It was hilarious. I've watched those SportsCenter commercials for years, and they're always really good, really funny. I was honored when I heard they wanted me for one of their new ones. We left the Richmond test session Wednesday night and flew straight to Bristol, Connecticut to shoot it. It was a long day with the test, but the scripts were really good, which made it fun. John Anderson was the SportsCenter anchor I worked with, and he was a real pro. As soon as we finished, he took off like a bat out of hell to go shoot the next morning's SportsCenter. Man, I thought that was impressive. After shooting a commercial, I'm looking for a couch and a cold beer. He had to go tape the next morning's SportsCenter, watched by millions of people. It was an all-around great experience, and I can't wait to see it. We actually shot two commercials that night. Not sure which one they're going to use... We'll have to wait and see."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team is sixth in the Nextel Cup point standings, 112 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and 15 points out of fifth. Dale Jr. has two top-fives, three top-10s, and has finished 12th or better in six of the seven races in 2006. The #8 Bud car has led two races this year for a total of 33 laps.

PHOENIX FACTS: Two of Dale Jr.'s 16 career wins have come at PIR, as the Bud team earned consecutive trips to victory lane in 2003 and 2004. Junior also has four top-fives in his last five races at Phoenix, leading a combined 205 laps. Dale Jr. is one of only three drivers with multiple victories at Phoenix (Davey Allison and Jeff Burton are the others).

STATISTICAL LEADER: After seven races, Dale Jr. is at or near the top of some of NASCAR's new statistical categories:

-- Percentage of laps on the lead lap: (Ranked 1st / 99.16%)

-- Quality Passes, defined as passing a car in the top-15 under green-flag conditions: (Ranked 2nd / 420 passes)

-- Laps Completed: (Ranked 1st / 100% of laps ran: 2,383 out of 2,383)

WAKE-UP WITH JUNIOR: Dale Jr. will be the guest at the "Nextel Wake-Up Call" news conference Thursday at Phoenix International Raceway's media center (11:30 a.m. PT, 2:30 p.m. ET).

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jimmie Johnson , John Anderson , Davey Allison