DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
On his car for the Daytona 500:
"My 500 car is good enough to win. We tested here and I was really happy with it. We tried a different carburetor in the Budweiser Shootout (Sunday night) that didn't work out for us. The fuel mileage was way off. I had some thoughts that the car was missing at some points. It would run for two laps, and then it would stutter for two laps. There must have been a distribution problem with the carburetor. On restarts when I would get back to the gas, the motor would fall on its face. We've got a really good car for the 500. We'll probably run what we traditionally do with the carburetor situation."
On his single-car qualifying run on Sunday (37th on the speed charts):
"It's probably what we expected. All the cars at DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) don't have a lot of speed on their own, but they've got good motors and good bodies on them for the race. I would like to have qualified a little better, but I'm not too concerned. We should race well in the 150s on Thursday. We don't have any problem being good in the draft. We've always been good in the draft."
On his strategy in the Daytona 500:
"Get to the front. Get the trophy. That's the plan... Just haul butt and pass people. We've got a fast car. The car is there, you know, we've just got to get some good pit stops and make no mistakes, we can pass them all on the race track. That's no problem."
On Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s restrictor-plate program:
"I feel like we still have one of the top restrictor-plate programs, because even when we're not at our best, we're still in the top two or three. Even last year, we had some strong superspeedway cars. I should have won the Daytona 500 last year. We're strong. I feel like I got one of the cars to beat over in the garage for the 500. It doesn't run fast in qualifying, but that's the way we built it. We build it to race good. A lot of guys build their cars to go fast by themselves in a straight line. That's not how you win.
On what it means to win the Daytona 500:
"It means everything. It means you don't have to go your whole career answering why you haven't won the biggest race. It was certainly one of my greatest accomplishments to win the Daytona 500 (2004), and I'm hungry to do it again. Last year I came in thinking how great it was to not have the pressure of the world on me, because I had already won it. This year I feel a greater urge to really go out there and win this race because of what my fans went through last year. I'd like to win it for them, so they can start the year off smiling."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team, champions of the 2004 Daytona 500, return to Daytona International Speedway on the heels of a second-place finish in the Budweiser Shootout on Sunday. It was Dale Jr.'s fourth finish of first or second in six Shootout races, and it improved his overall average in the season-opening all-star race to 3.3, the best among all active drivers with more than one Shootout start. Dale Jr. has scored two of his 16 career victories at Daytona. Aside from Thursday's qualifying race and Sunday's Daytona 500, Dale Jr. will also compete in Saturday's Busch Series race in the #81 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
THE BREW CREW IN THE '500': Dale Jr. has raced six times in the Daytona 500, accounting for one victory (2004) and three top-three finishes. He has led in four of those races for a total of 96 laps.
FAMILIAR CHASSIS: Dale Jr.'s car for the Daytona 500 is one of the older ones in the Bud fleet but perhaps the most reliable. Chassis #25 carried Dale Jr. to a victory and a second-place finish at Talladega in 2004. Michael Waltrip drove the car last season, putting it up front in the Daytona 500 before mechanical woes ended the day for the #15 team.
DAYTONA DOMINANCE: Non-points, Busch Series, and 24-hour races included, Dale Jr. has nine victories in 35 career starts at the Daytona International Speedway. Combined with his father, the Earnhardts have a combined 43 victories at Daytona. Below is Dale Jr.'s career stats at the 2.5-mile superspeedway:
HEAVY CHEVY: Chevrolet drivers have won 12 of the last 16 Daytona 500s.