After being voted the 2007 NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver for the fifth consecutive year and being presented with the award only a few days earlier at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City, Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't waste any time heading to Australia to watch the final round of the Australian V8 Supercar Series at the Phillip Island Gran Prix circuit.
Earnhardt Jr was a special guest at the Dunlop Grand Finale where he mixed and talked to all teams along pit lane, regardless of the Ford versus Holden rivalry before holding a media conference where he praised the technology of our premier motorsport category
The former Budweiser Chevrolet driver who heads to NASCAR's ultimate team, Hendrick Motorsport for the 2008 season said that he was "Looking forward to one day committing to racing a full year of V8 Supercars in Australia". He continued, "I have been impressed with the sport since watching it over the past 10 years on cable television".
"Like any race car driver you take interest in other forms of the sport around the world, whether Formula 1, our other categories in the States and the various categories in Europe", Earnhardt Jr said.
As was expected, the question on the lips of the majority of the press that gathered was "What's your opinion of Marcos Ambrose", the Australian export who is making a name for himself in NASCAR. The 33 year old was full of praise for the driver we know as the "Devil Racer" who won two V8 Supercar titles back to back, saying, "I think he's a good guy. There might be a few guys who raced him who might have a different opinion".
Ambrose will get the opportunity to race in twelve Sprint Cup races next year and Earnhardt Jr believes Ambrose will be competitive. "I don't know that he'll face the same challenges that a rookie or a young guy would because he's been racing a long time", Earnhardt Jr said.
Asked whether he has a chance of winning the title next year now that he is at Hendrick Motorsport. Earnhardt Jr responded by saying, "I'm going to be with the best team. Jimmie (Johnson) has won two years in a row and Jeff (Gordon) has established himself as one of the best in the business, it's going to be hard, but I'm looking to the challenge"
The popular NASCAR wheelman said that he was overwhelmed by the hospitality since he arrived in Melbourne. Let's hope that one day that can be extended further and we get to see Earnhardt Jr, Gordon, Johnson and Casey Mears compete at our most popular and challenging circuit, the Bathurst 1000.