Richmond: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, ...

Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:

"The race at Talladega was emotional for all of us since it was the last one with Tony (Eury) Jr. as crew chief. But the thing I felt good about was seeing the fans on their feet when we were leading. The guys tell me it's so loud the fans drown out the sound of the cars. I can't hear 'em inside the racecar, but I can sure see them - and I'd love to see the same thing this weekend. The fans here have been very supportive of us. The Charlotte races always have a little different feel for me because it's so close to home. A lot of the teams are based here and a lot of the drivers live here now, but I don't know too many who grew up 20 minutes from the track. So, to say this is my home track is really true. I can remember watching my dad so many years sittin' up there in the condos in turn one. When I was little, I wanted to go to as many races as I could to be around my dad and watch him every single lap. And I got to do that a lot here since it was so close to home."

About new crew chief Tony Gibson: "He and I talked a little bit after we dropped out of the Talladega race. It meant a lot to me. He's a great guy and we're going to be all right in these last six races. He's a lot of fun to be around and one of those guys that you just wanna win with. If you're going into battle, he's one of the guys you want right next to you. He deserves the shot to be in charge and he showed what he could do when Tony Jr. was suspended earlier this season. (Gibson was interim crew chief when Eury Jr. missed six races after technical violations at Darlington.) We did really well in those races, and we'll do just as well with him for the rest of the season."

About DEI's Richie Gilmore, who is home resting after suffering an aneurysm: "We're all glad Richie is alright. It probably hurt him more being at home watching all of those motors blow up. I genuinely consider him a good friend of mine and I hope he takes care of himself. I consider him the best restrictor-plate engine builder in the garage, and he's been a huge part of the success we've had at DEI. I want him to rest up and get better so he can get back to building some horsepower."

Minutiae:

The October race at Charlotte has been a very good one for Dale Jr. and the Budweiser team. With the exception of a blown tire that knocked them out of a nightmare race in 2005 (remember the many, many tire failures and crashes caused by 'levigation?!'), they have recorded three top-five finishes and five top-10s in this fall fest of speed... A third-place tally in Oct. 2004 is Dale Jr's career best in a points-paying Cup race at Lowe's, and he has also recorded three fourth-place finishes... The Bud team has won at Lowe's - in the 2000 edition of The Winston - aka The All-Star Race. (see story below)... Dale Jr. was the first rookie to win the all-star clash, and he also made headlines in May 2002 when he backed out of the throttle to prevent crashing Ryan Newman on the final lap of the race. Dale Jr. finished second but earned respect and dignity while Newman became the second rookie to win. (Dale Jr. after that race: "Yeah - I could have wrecked him and came around the last lap for the win. I mean, $750,000 (to win) is helluva lotta money. But, is it really worth it to win in a way that would be bittersweet? Is it worth it to piss off all the people that would be mad at me winning that way?")

Welcome Back:

Tony Gibson will be the crew chief for the No. 8 Budweiser team for the remainder of the season. He was the interim crew chief for six races earlier in the season after Tony Eury Jr. was suspended. In the six races with Gibson at the helm, the team recorded an eighth-place finish at Charlotte and two top-five finishes. In the "Gibson era," the team had an average finish of 10.6 - compared to a season-long average of 17. They also had an average starting spot of 8.5 in that span - compared to a season-long average of 14.47.

Gibson, a native of Daytona, joined Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2003. He was crew chief for Steve Park and Michael Waltrip at DEI before becoming the car chief for the No. 8 Bud team in 2005. He spent six seasons and won two championships as the car chief for Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports before coming to DEI. In his long NASCAR career, he also won a Cup title with driver/owner Alan Kulwicki and has worked with drivers including Bill Elliott, Cale Yarborough, Lake Speed and Rob Moroso. His goal is to win a fourth championship with a third organization.

This Bud's for You:
In the final weeks of the season, we will commemorate the long and successful pairing of Dale Jr., Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt Inc. by including a small slice of the most memorable moments and the greatest Dale Jr. quotes since 1999.

Memorable Drive:
No question here: Dale Jr's most memorable drive at Lowe's Motor Speedway was winning The Winston in 2000. As the first rookie to win, he overcame a brush with rival Rusty Wallace, a hard smack with the turn-four wall, an extra pit stop to replace loose lug nuts, and a sparkling, late-race dash through the field. The team opted to put four fresh tires on the No. 8 car with only eight laps remaining in the race, and then Dale Jr. set sail, passing cars high and low to gain the victory over Dale Jarrett and his father, the late Dale Earnhardt. What stands out most was the post-race celebration, which included a very proud papa. Dale Earnhardt was renowned for being the first one out of the garage after every race, but this one was different as he came to the makeshift victory lane on the front stretch and joined his son and his team in celebrating a major victory for what seemed like an hour. It remains one of Dale Jr's all-time greatest memories of his father.

Memorable Quotes from Charlotte:
Dale Jr: (following victory in the Winston): "I feel like I've finally done something to match what my daddy did here. I watched him in this race for many years and it makes me feel good to see Daddy happy. Makin' Daddy happy - that's number one! I've spent more than 20 years makin' him miserable so it's great to finally make him happy. The highlight of my life is seeing the smile on daddy's face tonight. That's what it's all about, ya know?!"

"My grandpa Ralph used to say "blow or go!" so we decided to gamble on those tires at the end. We didn't come here to finish second!"

"That Budweiser tasted good in victory lane! I've been dying all day to have me a cold beer. It's been really hot and you just sit here and wait and wait for the race to start. That Bud tasted as good as any beer I've ever had."

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Ryan Newman , Tony Eury Jr. , Cale Yarborough , Alan Kulwicki