Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: What would it mean to you to win at the Brickyard? "It's hard to even imagine what it'd be like. I definitely want to experience it before my career is over, if even only once. Daddy won...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
What would it mean to you to win at the Brickyard?
"It's hard to even imagine what it'd be like. I definitely want to experience it before my career is over, if even only once. Daddy won there, and I remember how special it was for him. He won a bunch of races, but I don't think there's any question winning the Brickyard was one of his career-highlights. It's a hard race to win, because all the teams put so much emphasis on it. You have to have the best car, the best pit crew, and the best driver to win that race. If you only have two of those three things, you'll lose."
Following the Pocono race, you expressed optimism about going to Indy. Why is that, and are you still as optimistic?
"Probably more so. I was real happy with the way the car handled towards the end of the Pocono race. We had been terrible all weekend (qualified 38th), but we changed the right-front spring during the race, and it just took off. We were two laps down so we couldn't really gain (positions) on the leaderboard. But on the track, we passed everybody but the winner. That was pretty cool. It was a brand new car. I hated it at first, but loved it at the end. We decided we gotta take it to Indy and see what we can do with it."
How much of your optimism stems from the Indy test (July 18-19)?
"Not a lot. The test went OK, but we were back and forth. The car would be great one run and bad the next. Had our new car not performed so well at the end of the Pocono race, I don't think we'd be as optimistic heading to Indy. I don't even think the plan was to take this car (chassis #37). But when we got fast and started passing everybody, it seemed like the best choice for us to take to Indy."
2005 SEASON OVERVIEW: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the Indianapolis race weekend 14th in the Nextel Cup point standings. In 20 races this year, the Brew Crew has scored one victory (Chicago), five top-fives and eight top-10 finishes. Three of those top-10s have come in the last four races.
CHASE WATCH: With six races to go before the start of the 10-race Chase for the Championship, Earnhardt sits 110 points out of the top-10 and 137 points away from the 400-point cutoff for Chase eligibility.
BRICKYARD BITS: Dale Jr. has one top-10 (a 10th in 2001) in five starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, however he has started sixth or better and finished 14th or better in three of those five races. Last year Earnhardt was in position to score his career-best finish at the famed 2.5-mile speedway, but a blown left-front tire on the final lap knocked him from sixth to 27th with two turns to go. That race was Dale Jr.'s first full race behind the wheel since suffering burns in a sports-car crash almost a month earlier.
BREW CREW EXTENDED: The Budweiser team will welcome some of its extended family to the track this weekend, as Brandon Bernstein, driver of the Budweiser Top Fuel Dragster in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), and Fred Patacchia, an Anheuser-Busch-sponsored surfer on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour, will be on hand for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Bernstein currently ranks sixth in the 2005 NHRA Top Fuel standings after scoring his seventh- and eighth-career victories last month at St. Louis and Seattle, respectively. Patacchia, who qualified for the WCT in 2004, is presently sixth in the WCT ratings, scoring a season-best 3rd-place finish at the Globe WCT Fiji event (May 22-June 3).