Earnhardt Jr. hopes next restrictor-plate triumph comes in July

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes next restrictor-plate triumph comes in 44th annual Pepsi 400 at Daytona. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (April, 22, 2002) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. left little doubt on Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway that he should ...

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes next restrictor-plate triumph comes in 44th annual Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (April, 22, 2002) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. left little doubt on Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway that he should be considered the pre-race favorite for the 44th annual Pepsi 400 on July 6 at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt Jr. delivered another flawless performance in his No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo, leading 133 of the 188 laps and taking the victory in the Aaron's 499.

On a final restart with five laps remaining, Earnhardt Jr., with some help from his familiar drafting partner and Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Michael Waltrip, easily held onto the lead to secure his second consecutive win at Talladega.

It was Earnhardt Jr.'s third win in the last four restrictor-plate races at Talladega and Daytona and the third time in the last six restrictor-plate races that Earnhardt Jr. and Waltrip have finished in the top two.

Much like his late father Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr. is proving to be a force on the restrictor-plate tracks at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

"I put a lot of emphasis on Daytona and Talladega," Earnhardt Jr. said. "They are my favorite tracks, and I love racing at them. I learned a lot watching my dad. When I first got to Daytona, I thought I was gonna pull out all his moves and be better than everyone else, but I found out I was wasn't any better than the rest of them.

"Daddy and I never talked about it, but I began to learn a lot of things that he did, and I feel like that helps me. But, I will say, you can't learn to run up front until you have a car that can do it. I know that if I was out there today in just about any other car, I wouldn't be sitting here right now talking about a win."

Earnhardt Jr. will look for his next restrictor-plate victory in the Pepsi 400. In last year's mid-summer classic, Earnhardt Jr. led 116 laps on his way to an emotional victory. But the win didn't come that easily.

Earnhardt Jr. needed some help in order to pull off the victory on that final restart late in the race, which he got from Waltrip, who Earnhardt Jr. pushed to victory earlier in the year in the Daytona 500.

On July 3-6, Earnhardt Jr. will look for back-to-back victories under the lights at Daytona in a race weekend that he enjoys.

"July is a lot of fun," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's a night race. All the practices and track activities during the week are later in the day so you can go out and have a good time on the town."

See if Earnhardt Jr. can win again in the Pepsi 400. Tickets can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Michael Waltrip