Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: The All-Star race is special because it was the stage for one of your most memorable wins (in 2000). What are your feelings heading into the 2005 Nextel All-Star Challenge weekend? "Winning...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
The All-Star race is special because it was the stage for one of your most memorable wins (in 2000). What are your feelings heading into the 2005 Nextel All-Star Challenge weekend?
"Winning the all-star race was definitely a big moment in my career. I've got the trophy sitting in a nice spot in my house, and every time I walk by it I think back to how cool that was. 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. It's 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 happened to us before. It's hard to predict an outcome in a money race like this, but that's what makes it fun."
Last year you finished fifth in this race; the year before you crashed and finished 17th. What will it take to turn things around?
"A good car and a lot of luck. I think we're bringing a pretty decent car for this weekend. We raced it at Texas earlier in the year and got a top-10 out of it. We brought it to the test session here at Charlotte, and Pete (Rondeau) and the guys were pretty happy with what they saw. It's kind of the same old story -- if you can survive the first two segments and make it to the third, then you can race like hell and try to go for the money. Humpy (Wheeler, track president) repaved the track recently, and it's fast as hell. The fans are certainly going to get their money's worth."
2005 SEASON OVERVIEW: Coming off a 14th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the all-star break 11th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. It was Dale Jr.'s seventh straight top-15 performance. On the season, the Bud team has three top-5s and five top-10s. Four of Dale Jr.'s top-10s have come in the last seven races.
ALL-STAR FACTS: 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 3.9 in 16 career starts. Dale Jr. has finished first or second 10 times in 16 starts.
The NEXTEL All-Star Challenge: 5th (2004), 17th (2003), 2nd (2002), 7th (2001), 1st (2000)
The Budweiser Shootout: 7th (2005), 2nd (2004), 1st (2003), 2nd (2002), 6th (2001)
Twin-125 Qualifiers: 2nd (2005), 1st (2004), 1st (2003), 2nd (2002), 2nd (2001), 4th (2000)
-- 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.)