DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
What is it like to win the All-Star race?
"Winning the all-star race (as a rookie in 2000) was definitely a big moment in my career. It's hard to beat the whole spectacle that goes into winning the All-Star race. There is a lot of money up for grabs -- over a million dollars -- but there is a lot of pride wrapped up in that winner's purse as well. I think you'll see a great race this year. It's going to be different with the new tire Goodyear and NASCAR has given us for Charlotte. It's a lot harder, a lot more slick, and it could make things interesting. I think you'll definitely see new strategies that you're not used to seeing in the All-Star race."
How will the strategies be different?
"When you make the compound (of the tire) harder, you automatically take grip away from the car. The first 15 or 20 laps on these new tires is slick as ice, kind of like riding go-karts on a slick track. In the past, if the opportunity presented itself, you'd see guys pit for new tires in the final segment to make a run for it. That probably won't work this time. Older tires with 15 or 20 laps on them might be preferred over new tires... A lot of guys are complaining about the new tire compound. I say if that's the tire NASCAR wants us to run to get the speeds down a little bit, then let's run 'em and see who can get to the finish line first."
On taking a break from "points" racing:
"I don't know, we're kind of on a roll right now. We've gone from eighth to fifth in the point standings just in the past two weeks. Obviously the All-Star race is a non-points race, but it will have a lot of bearing on how we approach the 600-mile race next week. I know Tony (Eury) Jr. really likes the car we're running in the All-Star race. We may run it in the 600 if all goes well. And with the limited time we've had on this new tire, I wouldn't be surprised if you see teams using All-Star practice more to gear up for the 600."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the All-Star break fifth in the Nextel Cup point standings, 226 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and 27 points behind fourth-place Mark Martin. Through 11 races, Dale Jr. has one win (Richmond), four top-fives and five top-10s. The #8 Chevy has led four races for 88 laps.
BUD CREW READY FOR ITS OWN ALL-STAR CHALLENGE: The #8 Budweiser pit crew, led by Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) pit crew coordinator Walt Smith, will compete in the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Pit Crew Challenge Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Bobcats Arena in uptown Charlotte. The timed event features a series of head-to-head challenges for each over-the-wall crew member and a 40-yard sprint (with the car) to the finish line. The winning team is awarded $70,000. The #8 Budweiser Brew Crew is made up of Brian "Hootie" Chase (jack man), Chris Crumley (front-tire changer), Shawn Ward (front tire carrier), Greg Burkhart (rear-tire changer), Troy Prince (rear tire carrier), Jeff Clark (gas man), and Craig Lund (catch can). Marty Oody, who regularly serves on the #11 DEI Busch Series pit crew, will substitute for the injured Crumley.