Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: Your results improve every year on the road courses. What is your mindset going into the first road-course race of the season? "We've come a long way on the road courses. I used to dread ...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
Your results improve every year on the road courses. What is your mindset going into the first road-course race of the season?
"We've come a long way on the road courses. I used to dread certain tracks and the road-courses were on that list. But I've improved a lot as a road racer, and now I really like going to those places. I've won Cup races on every kind of track except a road course, so it's like the one last piece I need to fill in to complete the package. We've managed a couple top-fives at Watkins Glen, and led some laps. I owe a lot to Boris Said, Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim. Those guys helped me a lot over the last four or five years with my road racing skills. The more I talked to them, the better I got. It really helped my confidence."
With guys like Boris and Ron giving you advice on driving the road courses, are you able to work the pedals as methodically as they do?
"Hell no. I'm amazed at how road-course drivers -- ya know, the real good ones like Boris and Ron -- work the brakes and the throttle at the same time through the turns. I mean, I do it to an extent, as I'm sure everyone else does. But at the end of the day, I'm still an old-school driver where the gas means go and the brake means stop. Those guys are wickedly good at using every bit of the car to make it fast. I bet if you were to put a camera in Boris' floorboard, it'd be like watching the Riverdance."
2005 SEASON OVERVIEW: The #8 Budweiser team with Dale Earnhardt Jr. enters the 16th race of the season 17th in the Nextel Cup point standings (1,670 points / 103 points out of Chase eligibility and 133 points out of the top-10). Dale Jr. has scored three top-fives and five top-10s in 15 races. The Brew Crew is coming off a 17th-place finish at Michigan on Sunday.
ROAD RUNNER: Dale Jr.'s average finish in his last four road-course races (at Infineon and Watkins Glen) is 7.5, as he has posted a pair of 11th-place finishes, a fifth and a third. both times. In this race last year, he led 9 laps and overcame two spins to tie his career-best finish at the California road course. He has finished 11th in each of the last two races at Infineon.
Dale Jr.'s most recent road-course race was at Watkins Glen last August, where he started third and finished fifth. He has led a total of 21 laps on road courses, all coming in the last three races.