Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: "We put a lot of emphasis on this all-star race, because it's a big-money race and we've won it before, so we know how awesome it is to come out on top. This is guts racing! It's just like...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
"We put a lot of emphasis on this all-star race, because it's a big-money race and we've won it before, so we know how awesome it is to come out on top. This is guts racing! It's just like the Budweiser Shootout - it's a brawl. In brawls, sometimes you get your car all tore up to pieces, and that's what happened to us last year. Something happened in front of us, I couldn't see a thing, I hit someone, someone hit me, and all hell broke loose. It's hard to predict an outcome in a money race like this, but that's what makes it fun."
"We're limited on practice for the All-Star race, and it will be tricky setting-up your car. You're there to win, but the All-Star race is also a good test session for the (Coca-Cola) 600 (on May 30). I'm just looking forward to getting laps on that track. We've always run good at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and hopefully we'll have some good runs the next couple of weeks.
On the changes made to the race format, which now allow fans to vote in the final driver:
"It's pretty cool. I think it's for the better. It should be a lot more exciting for the fans to have a larger field at the end of the race going after the win. It's a tough race but I'd like to put my brother's name in the hat for the race. I hope either Kerry Earnhardt or Carl Long gets voted into the All Star race."
-- The Budweiser team enters the weekend on the heels of its third victory of the year at Richmond International Raceway. Through 11 races, Dale Jr. is leading the following categories: wins (3), top fives (7, tied with Jimmie Johnson) and top-10 starts (9).
-- Dale Jr. was the first rookie to win the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge in 2000. He now shares that record with Ryan Newman.
-- In non-points-paying or all-star type NEXTEL Cup races, the Budweiser team and Dale Jr. have four victories and a finishing average of 3.7 in 13 career starts. Only four times has Dale Jr. not finished either first or second in a non-points race.
-- Dale Jr. made his NEXTEL Cup debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway at the Coca-Cola 600 in 1999. He qualified eighth and finished 16th.
-- The Budweiser team has twice won a million dollar purse. (The defunct 'No-Bull 5' program at Talladega, in Oct. 2001 and Oct. 2002.)
The NEXTEL All-Star Challenge
Lowe's Motor Speedway / Concord, N.C.
1.5-mile tri-oval / 90 laps (three segments totaling 40, 30 and 20 laps)
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Purse: $3,195,000 ($1,003,500 to the winner)
TV: FX, 7 p.m. ET (The Nextel Open) / 9 p.m. ET (The Nextel All-Star Challenge)
Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN), XM Radio.
Bud Pole Qualifying: Speed Channel / Friday, 6 p.m. ET. (Qualifying will consist of three laps with a mandatory four-tire pit stop included).