Quotes from: DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, ...
Quotes from: DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
On returning to Phoenix International Raceway:
"I like this race track. We've won a couple of races here and seem to have a good handle on the set-up when race time comes. Even when Tony (Eury) Jr. wasn't my crew chief (April, 2005), we still had a top-five finish. I have a lot of confidence when I come here, and the team does as well. We've run strong throughout the entire Chase, and I don't expect that to change this weekend."
On adjusting to the unique configuration of the one-mile PIR track:
"When I first started running here, I didn't get around the place very good. I raced mid-pack or toward the back of the field. It was just a real hot, slick race track for me. I don't know what happened, but we showed up one week and this thing was just really, really fast and we've been fast ever since. It's something in the set-up of the car that Tony Jr. found -- maybe testing at Richmond or somewhere -- that helped us at Phoenix. That's really how we won those races and it's been fast ever since."
On being third in the Chase for the Cup with two races to go:
"We need to be in reasonable striking distance going into Homestead, so gaining a spot in the standings (with a sixth-place finish at Atlanta) was pretty important. I'm really glad we're close. That's what you shoot for. We've got some hard, tough teams to beat, but I think we're putting up a great fight. I don't think anybody anticipated this team running as strong every week. We all agreed on a few tracks we'd run good at, but I don't think anybody anticipated running great every week. I'm proud of my team, and we've never worked better as a whole as we have this season."
2006 OVERVIEW: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter race No. 35 of 36 third in the Nextel Cup point standings, up one spot from a week ago. Dale Jr. is 78 points behind point leader Jimmie Johnson following a sixth-place finish at Texas on Sunday, his 16th top-10 of the season. The Bud team has one victory (Richmond), and 10 top-five finishes in 2006.
PHOENIX WEEKEND NOTEBOOK
Phoenix Facts: Two of Dale Jr.'s 17 career wins have come at Phoenix, as the Bud team earned consecutive trips to victory lane in 2003 and 2004. Junior has four top-fives in his last six races at PIR, leading a combined 205 laps. Phoenix is one of four tracks in which Dale Jr. has multiple victories (Talladega, Richmond, and Daytona are the others). Dale Jr., Jeff Burton and the late Davey Allison are the only drivers with multiple victories at PIR.
Leading the Pack: The Budweiser team has led laps in five of the last six races. The #8 Chevy has been out front more in the last six races (188 laps) than it was the entire 2005 season (167 laps). Dale Jr. has led 17 races this year for 397 laps.
Other tidbits: Dale Jr. has finished in the top-10 in 10 of 18 career Chase races... Of the 10 drivers racing for the championship, Dale Jr. and Matt Kenseth remain the only ones who have scored top-25 finishes in each Chase race.... The Bud car will carry a special decal on the rear decklid this weekend, promoting the Nov. 18 HBO Pay-Per-View super featherweight bout between Manny "PAC MAN" Pacquiao and Erik "EL TERRIBLE" Morales.