DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
Looking ahead to the Daytona 500 (and Thursday's qualifying race): "I'm really happy with the car. I think we're going to be real strong. We didn't qualify as well as I had hoped (in Bud Pole qualifying), but that seems to be the trend for us here. We don't run as well when we're the only car out there -- but we always race right to the front in the qualifier and the 500. We're much better this year than the last couple of years here. The engine guys have done a lot to improve the horsepower and I think that will help us in the 500.
"I couldn't be happier with my crew. I really like all of the guys around me and we're all really focused on the racecar and motivated to go out and win another of these (Daytona 500s). It's a race we all look forward to for months and months, and I'll be glad to get in the racecar and let it all hang out. We won the 500 on 2004, and it really set the tone and the attitude for the rest of the season. We learned some subtle things (in the Budweiser Shootout) about the handling and how the tires will react on long runs and we know the car we're running in the 500 is a much better than the car we ran in the Shootout."
DUEL DETAILS: Dale Jr. has an amazing record in the qualifying races that take place on Thursday afternoon prior to the Daytona 500. In seven Thursday starts, Dale Jr. has two victories, six top-three finishes and seven top-fives. His worst finish in a qualifying race was fourth place in 2000.
Dale Jr. qualified 23rd quickest out of 61 cars in Bud Pole qualifying Sunday afternoon. Dale Jr and the Budweiser team will start 11th (inside of row six) in the first of two qualifying races Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. (The Dual 150's will air live on SPEED.) Dale Jr's finishing position in the qualifying race will determine his starting position in Sunday's Daytona 500.
DAYTONA DOMINANCE: Non-points, Busch Series, IROC Series and Rolex Sports Car Series races included, Dale Jr. has 10 victories in 43 career starts at the Daytona International Speedway. Combined with his father, the Earnhardts have a combined 45 victories at Daytona. Dale Jr's victory in the Daytona 500 was the first race of the Nextel Cup era.
APOCALYPSE, Now: Viewers of Sunday's race on Fox will see the broadcast debut of the latest Budweiser/Dale Jr. commercial, called "Apocalypse." The commercial allows viewers to ride along with Dale Jr. as he races at top speed while chased by mutants with chainsaws.