Quotes from: DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, ...
Quotes from: DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"This is a big weekend for us. Talladega is always a track that shakes things up in the Chase. We can make some serious gains in the points this week with a good run. Obviously we lost a little bit of ground to (point leader) Jeff Burton on Sunday, but we gained ground to get much closer to second place. It's important we gain a few positions, because we can't afford to be stuck behind six guys week after week. You can make up big chunks of points on one guy if he has trouble, but you can't expect all six guys ahead of you will have issues. We need some top-fives and wins to catch up, but I look at some of the tracks coming up and feel really good about them. Talladega is obviously a race I look forward to, and I know our chances of winning are as good as anybody's."
On the new pavement at Talladega, and how that will affect the racing there: "I got a chance to check it out last week (giving media rides in a street-version Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS). They did a great job on the asphalt. It's really smooth. Obviously the bottom groove will be the preferred line around there, as it is any time you have a track that has just been repaved. But I was really impressed with the new asphalt. It's so different than what you're used to seeing at Talladega."
On a brush with the wall during his Talladega media rides last week: "(Laughing) Yeah, they are going to have to replace one of the side-view mirrors on that Monte Carlo, because I knocked one off. I was driving the car around the high groove and all of a sudden the wall jumped out and slapped the side of the car. The wall (SAFER barrier) was real uneven - it wasn't aligned with the track all the way around. So, it kind of jumped out and grabbed me. It was pretty funny. I was dragging the mirror all the way around just to let them know how close we were."
On your biggest concern at Talladega: "We really haven't run as good there the last couple times as we expect to when we get there. That's probably a bigger concern for me than the chances of being in a wreck. Obviously, we usually have someone make a mistake and it always takes out half the field, so your odds of being in that are pretty good. It's not something you'd like to face. You'd rather it come down to talent alone, but a lot of different things can happen. But, I've got the confidence in my team. We always go in with the same philosophy: run hard and run up front. If you're in the lead, you're a lot less likely to get taken out by someone else's mistake."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter race No. 4 of 10 in the Chase for the Championship seventh in the Nextel Cup point standings, 123 points out of the lead and 27 points behind fifth-place Kevin Harvick. Junior is coming off a 10th-place finish at Kansas on Sunday. On the season, Junior has one win (Richmond), eight top-fives, 13 top-10s, and seven additional top-15s. He has led in 13 races for 227 laps.
TALLADEGA TIDBITS: Dale Jr. has compiled quite a track record at Talladega Superspeedway, including five victories and two second-place finishes in only 13 starts. A few more notes on Junior's success at the 2.66-mile Alabama superspeedway:
Dale Jr.'s five victories at Talladega are the most of any active driver.
Dale Jr. has a 12.230 finishing average at Talladega, ranking first among the 10 Chase drivers.
Junior has put the Budweiser car out front in 11 of his 13 races at Talladega for 500 laps.
Junior leads all active drivers with an 11.814 finishing average in 27 career restrictor-plate races. He has seven victories and 17 top-10 finishes in those 27 restrictor-plate races.
Dale Jr.'s four consecutive victories from Oct. 21, 2001 to April 6, 2003, is the most by any driver at Talladega.
Finished in the top-10 in eight of his last 13 races.
One of only five drivers to post a season-sweep at Talladega: Dale Jr. (2002), Dale Earnhardt (1990, 1999), Darrell Waltrip (1982), Buddy Baker (1975) and Pete Hamilton (1970).
DALE JR. ON RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS:
On restrictor plate tracks, Junior has seven victories (two at Daytona, five at Talladega) in 26 career starts, ranking him third all-time behind Dale Earnhardt (11) and Jeff Gordon (10).