J Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: How rewarding was it to be the first driver to ever sweep the weekend races (Nextel Cup and Busch Series) at Bristol last year? "I considered it a...
J Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
How rewarding was it to be the first driver to ever sweep the weekend races (Nextel Cup and Busch Series) at Bristol last year? "I considered it a pretty big accomplishment personally, because for me Bristol is probably the toughest track on the circuit. There are times I hate it, and times I love it. Bristol was one of several tracks I really wanted to win at. I'd never won there -- in Busch or anything -- so to get to drive up on top of that roof (Victory Lane, on top of the Goodyear building) twice in one weekend was really cool."
How difficult is it to be consistently fast at Bristol? "Well, there are some teams out here that don't seem to have a problem with it. The thing about Bristol is you can be really good but still caught up in a wreck. That's probably the main concern. Even if you're the leader, it's hard to miss wrecks sometimes because of all the lapped traffic. That's just Bristol. You can't take a break at any time. The moment you think you're doing good, it'll jump up and deal you a nasty blow."
Talk about the lessons your dad gave you on how to drive at Bristol. "The toughest part about Bristol is reminding yourself for 500 laps not to overdrive the corners. You just give up so much speed on the exit of the corner by driving in the center so hard. You'd almost have to stop and turn again to get off the corner. Daddy and I were practicing for the race one weekend when I was a rookie. I was all over the place and wasn't running real good. And he got on the radio and told me where to lift and where to get on the gas. It was really hard at first, but eventually I got the hang of it. You have to have a good car, too. That always helps."
2005 SEASON OVERVIEW: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the 24th race of the season 16th in the Nextel Cup point standings after an 18th-place finish at Michigan on Sunday. Junior is currently 158 points out of the top-10. In 2005, the Brew Crew has one victory, five top-fives and nine top-10s.J JUNIOR AT BRISTOL: In 11 career starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Dale Jr. has one win, four top-fives and five top-10s (all coming in his last seven races). He has led four races for a total of 707 laps. His only DNF came in his very first Cup start there in 2000.
DOMINATING LAST YEAR'S RACE: Dale Jr. is the defending race winner of the Sharpie 500, as he overcame a 30th-place starting position to lead 295 of 500 laps and win the Bristol night race last year in dominating fashion. It was only the seventh time in 88 races at BMS that a race winner had started outside the top-15. The win capped a stellar weekend for Junior, as he also scored a victory in the Busch Series race the night before. Junior became the first driver in history to sweep the weekend races at "Thunder Valley". Dale Jr. will again be gunning for the weekend sweep, starting with Friday night's Food City 250 Busch Series race (8 p.m. ET on TNT).
SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: In 2004, Dale Jr. scored more points (924) on short tracks (less than a mile in length) than any other driver for the third consecutive year, posting two victories and four top-10s. Junior has finished 14th or better in six of his last seven short-track races, including five top-fives.