Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, ...
Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"I don't think there is a place on the tour where we've been as consistently fast and at the front only to have strange things happen in the final laps. It's a lot like what has happened for the Bud team all year: we're fast, we lead laps, we set ourselves up for victory and then 'BAM!' - something odd happens. It's one of my favorite places to go because it's so damn fast. It really takes a lot of courage to keep that right foot planted when you go into turn one at more than 200 mph. But, it's a place where you can pick and choose your line and that means two things: a fun race for the drivers and a very entertaining show for the fans.
"We should have a lot more wins here but we've missed out because of agonizing things like flat tires in the final five laps or a piece of metal getting lodged in my eye (in Nov. 2001). We had that race won easily, and then suddenly I'm driving the last 30 laps with one eye open... The win we had in 2004 really meant a lot to me and the entire team. We won the Daytona 500 to start the year, and then we had a nightmare race at Las Vegas. The critics were sharpening those pointy lil' pencils after Vegas, saying the team was done. But, we came back and put a hurt on them the next week at Atlanta. That's what makes a win even more meaningful: when your back is on the wall and your critics and doubters have their shovels out - ready to bury you - and you come back to get a win. It's a great feeling. I think we could see the same thing Sunday. We've had a nightmare of a time getting to the finish of so many races this year and the only way to overcome those feelings of frustration is to be pouring Budweiser all over each other in Victory Lane at the end of the night."
Dale Jr. has led nearly 600 laps in his Atlanta Cup career, including his first-ever lap led in a Cup race when he led a single circuit in November 1999... Between Nov. 2001 and Oct. 2004, the Bud team had six consecutive finishes of seventh-place or better at Atlanta... Dale Jr. has a victory and seven top-five finishes overall at the high-speed Georgia track... among the surreal moments includes a crash in 2000 while leading easily after a telemetry module mounted on the car by the TV network wore a hole in a brake line... a flat tire in March 2001 with less than five laps remaining when Dale Jr. was making a dramatic, three-wide pass for the lead and then came back in the second race in 2001 to lead 171 laps and lead with ease before a small shard of metal became lodged in his eye, and Junior finished seventh while driving the final laps with one eye closed.... Perhaps the single most painful memory came in this event in 2004 when Dale Jr. was hit from behind by Carl Edwards and crashed at the end of the back stretch while going for a victory that would have put him into or near the points lead late in the 2004 Chase for the Cup. The crash - and its aftermath - knocked the team from contention for a championship and began a chain of events that led DEI to 'switch' entire crews before the 2005 season. How much more surreal can it get?!
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.
Career win #11 for Dale Jr. and the Bud team may not immediately jump off the page as one of the most impactful victories of their tenure, but - as usual with this team - it was the circumstances surrounding the win that made it special. They had won the season-opening Daytona 500 to take the points lead in the Nextel Cup Series for the first time ever, yet were blasted in the media for a horrific run at Las Vegas in the third race of the season. The handling of the car was so poor at Vegas, the team was nearly black-flagged for being unable to maintain minimum speeds and they withdrew early for a 35th-place finish. However, with a mixture of determination, anger and sheer will, the team came back seven days later at Atlanta to lead 55 laps and take a statement-making win.
Memorable Quotes from Dale Jr. after the Atlanta win:
On what it meant to win after a humbling 35th-place finish at Las Vegas the previous week: "All I know is that it wasn't too long ago that a showing like that would've done us in. Either I would've got fed up and quit and parked it, or me and Tony (Eury) Jr. would've ensued into a hellacious cussing match. It would've been nasty. I knew the first lap (at Vegas) I was driving a ticking time bomb. That thing was going to be awful all day. But this Budweiser team never gives up. Two years ago, maybe even last year, we would've self-destructed. We probably wouldn't have come out of that for some time. I would have raced Atlanta Monday morning if I could have, because I wanted to get as far from Vegas as I could. It's hard to go home and face your friends and your team after a race like that. I was just hoping Atlanta wouldn't be another disaster. I was getting a little frustrated early in the race, because we are a top-five team here and there we were riding in 13th and almost going a lap down. Just goes to show you never give up, and never give up on your team.
On finally getting a win at Atlanta: "This track has been on my want-list for a long time. I've wanted to win here pretty bad. I'd seen my daddy come in here and win so many times. It really means a lot to win here. It's great to put your name on the list to win The Winston and the Daytona 500, but this was a personal victory for me today."
Primary Chassis this week: 042 / replica to the team's favorite chassis (#039) / finished 14th at the spring race at Atlanta and has also raced at Fontana, Indianapolis and Pocono this season.