DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
What are your thoughts leading into this weekend's race at Charlotte?
"It's obvious we have a lot of work to do in a short time. We really struggled in the All-Star race. Not sure why, but we fought the car the entire race. We tried a lot of different things, and none of them seemed to work. It was frustrating. I know the guys at the shop are working to figure it out. If there was a good thing about the All-Star race, it was that we know all the stuff -- or a lot of the stuff -- that doesn't work. We've definitely got to get faster just to run in the top-10."
Were the new hard compound tires the issue?
"I'm not a big fan of the tires, but it is what it is. Our issue is in the set-up. We know we've got a great car. It ran third at Atlanta, led laps... it has a great body on it. We've just got to dig deeper and work at finding the right combination, and I have to feed (crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr. the best information. The practice sessions will be very important for us. The tires definitely affect a lot of things, because you lose so much grip with the harder compound. But some teams have figured out how to make it work, so that's no excuse."
On today's (Monday's) debut of the ESPN "SportsCentury"
"I saw it last week and thought it was really good. The story is the same as it's always been, but this is probably the best summarization of myself and how I feel about everything that has happened in my life. I was really happy with it. Driven (the one-hour VH-1 documentary from 2004) was really good but I think this is definitely the best if people want to really know who I am. There might be some things in there that I would rather have skipped. But it's all true."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter Charlotte race weekend 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.
CHARLOTTE NOTEBOOK ON THE BUD TEAM:
* 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.
* In 13 career starts at LMS, Dale Jr. has four top-5s and six top-10s.JHe has led six times for 198 laps.
* Five of Dale Jr.'s 17 career victories have come at night, most recently his win at Richmond two weeks ago.
* Dale Jr. has two top-10 finishes in the 600-mile race at Charlotte.
* Junior won his first career Bud Pole Award at LMS in May 2000, less than one week after becoming the first rookie driver to win the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.