Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, ...
Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"Everybody wants to talk about the points and what we plan to do to make the Chase (for the Championship). You know, we're going to do what we've been doing all year: go out and try to win the race. It's all we can do. We're far enough behind where the point standings are out of our control, so we just need to focus on extending our win streak. (Note: Dale Jr. and the Bud team have won at least one race in each of the past seven seasons - one of the top 15 streaks in NASCAR history.) That's the goal now; to win races and to do all we can for our fans and our sponsors and the people at DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) who have worked so hard and have poured so much of themselves into these red racecars."
"We have really hit upon a set-up that works great here and at Michigan (the sister-track to California). We had a cut tire early in the race here in Feb. and we hurt the engine so we really couldn't show our cards. But, we were second at this race last year, so I'm confident. The race is one of those rough late-afternoon starts, so the track starts off in the sunlight and the heat of the day, and then as it cools, we have to fight a wicked, blinding sunset as we head down the backstretch and the track cools and changes as the darkness comes in. That makes it a challenge to keep making adjustments to the car that match what the track surface is doing."
The results at the modern Los Angeles-area track have been mixed for the Bud team... while they have been strong in recent races (including a second-place tally in this race last season), the team has four DNFs at Fontana - including the most recent race there in February. The Bud team suffered from a flat tire and then a blown engine after completing less than half of the laps earlier this season at California Speedway. The departure from the race created one of the iconic visuals of the season, as Dale Jr. made a melodramatic bow upon exiting his smoking car - responding to the cheers of the crowd and upon his relief at not hitting the wall after the engine detonated... It was here in April, 2002 that Dale Jr. suffered one of the hardest crashes of his career. He was swept into the wall after a tire failure on another car, and received a concussion that he did not reveal to anyone for many months after... (it also produced one of his best quips despite his injuries. In addition to the concussion, he suffered from bumps and bruises from the then-crude Hutchens Device- which included what was known as - ahem- a 'crotch strap.' The track doctor assured Junior he was not seriously injured and "you should still be able to have kids." To that, Junior replied "just not tonight...")... The 2002 event was also where Junior first met Sheryl Crow. The duo struck up a friendship and Junior soon appeared in Crow's video for the song "Steve McQueen."