Loudon II: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, ...

Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"We led the most laps there (at the most recent race in July) and finished fourth, so we certainly have shown we can take the COT (car o' tomorrow) to the front at Loudon - and that was without (crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr. He says he's worth five or six spots himself, so that means we should win, right?!"

"We're all frustrated and let down by not making the Chase, and we're coming to grips with the fact that we won't be going out with a title this year. But, we can wash that bad taste out of our mouths by running wide-open just like we have been and we're bound to grab a win or two in the last ten races. There's no way we can keep running up front and not have the breaks go our way at least once. It's bound to happen, but even if it doesn't, we're going to close out the year with integrity and our heads held high to the last lap."

The team comes to Loudon with confidence after leading the most laps (64) and finished fourth at the most recent Cup race at the one-mile oval... Perhaps it was a distant foreshadowing of a frustrating 2007 season hampered by engine issues, but Dale Jr's first Nextel Cup career DNF came at Loudon, as mechanical gremlins knocked him out of his second career start after only 44 laps... The Bud team has six top-10 finishes in the last nine Loudon starts...

13th?! Why?
It's hard to describe how a team could run so well in nearly every race - and yet miss the Nextel Cup playoffs. However, NASCAR's "loop data" statistics point a giant, flashing neon light at the success the Budweiser team has seen this year - and also a glaring spotlight on why they are so far behind in the point standings despite their consistent speed. First, the good news:

Dale Jr. rankings among all drivers after 26 races:
Overall Driver Rating: 7th
Avg. Running Position: 5th
Fastest Early in a Run: 2nd
Fastest Late in a Run: 4th
Fastest on Straightaways: 1st
Fastest in the Turns: 6th
Fastest Laps Run: 4th
Fastest on Restarts: 2nd
Fastest Green Flag Speed: 2nd
Laps in Top-15: 3rd
Laps Led: 7th
Mileage Led: 8th
Percent of Laps on Lead Lap: 5th
Quality Passes: 12th
Speed in Traffic: 5th

And now the bad new: the only category where the team is not among the overall leaders is called "Closers" - which measures the positions improved in final 10 percent of each race. Dale Jr. is not even listed among top-35 drivers for the season, which emphasizes how many times mechanical failures have taken them out of a potential win in the final laps and dropped them deep into the final standings.

This Bud's for You:
In the final ten weeks of the season, we will commemorate the long and successful pairing of Dale Jr., Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt Inc. by including a small slice of the most memorable moments and the greatest Dale Jr. quotes since 1999.

Memorable Drive:
Dale Jr's 10th career victory came in Feb. 2004 - the first race of the Nextel Cup era - as he won the Daytona 500 in his fifth attempt. It was not the usual dominant performance the DEI team had shown at Daytona in previous years, but still rates as perhaps his most impressive restrictor-plate pass as he made a move inside of Tony Stewart without drafting partners on lap 181, taking the lead for the final 19 laps and grabbing the crown in the 46th annual "Great American Race." It was also the first time Dale Jr. had led the Nextel Cup point standings, and launched the Budweiser team to a career-best season of six-wins and a third-place finish in the year-end standings.

Memorable Quotes:
After the Daytona 500: "I can't believe it! It's awesome! What a great race! This has got to be the greatest day of my life!"

Speaking to the President of the United States on the phone after his victory: "Yes sir... thank you very much. Take 'er easy!"

After hanging up the phone: "There wasn't any caller-ID. I tried to look and memorize that number there...."

-credit: dei

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart