The Party for Dale Jr. Starts Saturday Night With the Budweiser Shootout DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
The Party for Dale Jr. Starts Saturday Night With the Budweiser Shootout
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
On what makes the Budweiser Shootout different:
"There are a lot of things that make this race unique. The tempo, the speeds, the bumpin' and bangin', the rock bands before and after the race, the enthusiasm in the stands. It's a big party, and there's not too many parties I don't make myself a part of (laughs). I said a couple of years ago, this race is like a bar fight on four wheels. I'm pretty sure when it comes to partying and raisin' hell, I run harder than any of these guys, so this race suits my style."
On the Bud Shootout Qualifying Draw (where drivers draw randomly numbered Bud bottle caps to determine the starting field):
"It's unconventional, but I like it. It's different. For 37 weekends, we set the field by turning qualifying laps, so why not mix it up? It's probably the best shot I have at winning the pole since our superspeedway cars are a lot better in the draft than running by themselves. But I'm not really good at drawing numbers either. I remember drawing the 12th starting position last year and feeling like I had accomplished something. I've won this thing starting in last place (19th starting position in 2003), but I worked real hard in the off-season pulling off bottle caps (laughs). I'm hoping that helps."
On strategy of the Budweiser Shootout:
"Go to the front, stay up front, and use whatever means to finish up front. That's basically it. They don't give you a long time to get it done, so you won't see a lot of drivers exercising patience out there. There's a lot of money up for grabs, and it ain't cheap to start a full-time Busch Series operation from scratch and run a full-season like we're doing at JR Motorsports. I got bills!"
On starting the season fresh with crew chief Tony Eury Jr.:
"We've had the Budweiser Shootout circled on our calendars since Homestead last year, because at the end of last season we were really starting to regain our old form. We didn't want the season to end, and we've been itching to get back to the track and continue what we started in the final 10 races last year. We came away from all the test sessions (in January) pleased with our cars, our progress. Tony Jr. is as optimistic as I've ever seen him, and that makes me really fired up to get this season going."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of eight previous champions racing in the 2006 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. He won the Shootout in 2003, beating Jeff Gordon in a close finish. Junior also has two second-place finishes (2002 and 2004) and has never finished worse than seventh in five starts. His average Shootout finish is 3.6, best among all active drivers with more than one start.
FROM THE BACK TO THE FRONT: No driver has ever won from as far back as Dale Jr. did in 2003, after starting 19th. He is only the third driver to win the Shootout after starting in last place. The others were Dale Jarrett, who drove from 15th to first in 2000, and Dale Earnhardt, who came from 14th in 1991 and 13th in 1993 to earn two of his record six Shootout titles.
DAYTONA DOMINANCE: Non-points, Busch Series, and 24-hour races included, Dale Jr. has nine victories in 34 career starts at the Daytona International Speedway. Combined with his father, the Earnhardts have a combined 43 victories at Daytona. The elder Earnhardt was a six-time winner of the Budweiser Shootout, by far the most of any driver.