DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
On racing at Martinsville Speedway:
"I remember getting out of my car last year and wondering how the hell a car as smashed up as ours could actually pass people out there, but then I looked at everybody else's cars and found my answer. This track is really a cool little place to race. I mean, there is stuff happening every lap. You beat and bang for 500 laps, and that's fun if you got the temperament to handle it. Some do, some don't. Even though we've never won at Martinsville, I've always felt like our chances are as good as anyone else's. We went awhile there where we did everything but win (see Martinsville and Short Track Facts below). That gave me a lot of confidence, and I've always considered our short-track program to be one of the best."
On his maturation as a driver over the last two or three years: "I feel like I've gotten smarter each year. I've always driven as hard as I could drive. I may not have always made the smartest choices on the race track. Not that those mistakes are behind me. You just get a little bit smarter. Every year you season as a driver. When you first come in you run as hard as you can and bounce off a lot of stuff. Hopefully as you get more races under your belt, you bounce off less stuff. I pride myself in not being bad on my equipment."
After five races, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team is sixth in the Nextel Cup point standings, 118 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. Dale Jr. has one top-fives, two top-10s, and has finished 11th or better in four of five races in 2006.
MARTINSVILLE FACTS: From 2002 to 2004, Dale Jr. had five consecutive top-five finishes at the Virginia short-track, leading a total of 452 laps. In that stretch he started no worse than 10th. Last year the Bud team finished 13th and 18th, respectively.
SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: Three of Dale Jr.'s 16 wins have come on short tracks, and he has finished 20th or better in 20 of his last 21 races on tracks less than one mile in length (including 11 top-fives and two victories). The Budweiser team's most recent short-track win came at Bristol in 2004, when Dale Jr. dominated by leading 295 laps.
MONDAY TESTING: One day after leaving the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway, the Budweiser team is spending its Monday at Greensville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, testing a brand new short-track car (#41) that will most likely be the primary chassis for this weekend's race. Chassis #41 is the newest car in the Bud stable of Chevrolet Monte Carlos.