Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, ...
Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"It's going to be tough without Tony Jr. (Eury, crew chief, who was suspended until July following a technical violation at Darlington) - but we're going to be alright as a team. We've been through a lot of things together, so this isn't the end of the world - or the season. Losing 100 points means we're not in the top-12 spots right now, but we didn't panic when we had two DNFs to start the season, and we're not going to panic now. There are a lot of races left before the Chase to get those points back and even a lot of races after Tony Jr. comes back. Tony Gibson will be great as crew chief and I'm glad we have someone like him able to step in, and I'll still have Steve Hmiel (Dale Earnhardt Inc. Director of Technical Operations) spotting for me and working with us every step of the race weekend. Tony Jr. will still be the man in charge at the shop, preparing the cars before we roll 'em off the truck each weekend and I'm confident I'll have a fast car when practice starts, just like I have almost every weekend so far this year."
"The test sessions (at Lowe's Motor Speedway in early May) went really well. It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of testing, but we spent two very productive days and have a good sense of what we want to do with the car. The car we used in the All-Star race was different simply because you do a lot of things differently for an 80-lap sprint versus a car that is built to last 600 miles, but we made some changes and learned some things in the last segment of that race that we can apply once the sun goes down midway through the 600. The track changes so much between the late afternoon start and the late night finish, it helps to have an idea of how you will approach the changes to the car as the race wears on."
Minutiae: Dale Jr. made his first career Cup start in this event in 1999, qualifying 8th and finishing 16th... His first career Bud Pole Award came in this event in 2000 with a then-track-record lap. He led 175 laps that weekend and finished fourth as Matt Kenseth got his first career win... The team and driver were assessed heavy penalties from NASCAR after the race at Darlington, including a loss of 100 driver and team owner points, which knocked Dale Jr. from 12th to 14th place in the Nextel Cup point standings, 54 points behind the 12th-place position.
Primary Chassis this week: #039... the favorite, workhorse chassis for the Bud team - it has been utilized many times on 1.5-mile and 2-mile tracks in 2006 and 2007.
Meet the New Boss: Due to the NASCAR suspension of crew chief Tony Eury Jr. for technical infractions at Darlington, the crew chief for the No. 8 team will be Tony Gibson until Eury's return.
Gibson, a native of Daytona, joined Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2003. He was crew chief for Steve Park and Michael Waltrip at DEI before becoming the car chief for the No. 8 Bud team in 2005. He spent six seasons and won two championships as the car chief for Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports before coming to DEI. In his long NASCAR career, he also won a Cup title with driver/owner Alan Kulwicki and has worked with drivers including Bill Elliott, Cale Yarborough, Lake Speed and Rob Moroso. His goal is to win a fourth championship with a third organization.
No Points? Another Top-10: One last odd tidbit following the All-Star Challenge: Dale Jr. has now finished in the top-10 in seven of eight starts in the All-Star race. If you combine that total with his non-points starts at Daytona (Budweiser Shootout and qualifying races) and one exhibition race in Japan, his career mark is 22 top-10s in 24 starts in Cup races where points are not awarded.