Martinsville II: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: "We've run good at Martinsville in the past, but it will be a tough race with the new track. We've been in position to win here quite a few times in the last couple of years, and we need to step...

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:

"We've run good at Martinsville in the past, but it will be a tough race with the new track. We've been in position to win here quite a few times in the last couple of years, and we need to step up and do it Sunday. The track is really smooth. They did a great job resurfacing it. You still deal with some of the same issues handling-wise, but the speeds are definitely faster (The Bud team tested at the newly resurfaced Martinsville Speedway last week, and was one of three teams to register unofficial lap times quicker than the track record.) I think the set-up is going to be close to what it used to be, but it's still going to be tough. All of us (in the top-10 Chase for the Championship) run pretty good there. With this new surface, one of us might struggle. Hopefully we'll get it right."

Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team are riding a string of five consecutive top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway, the longest top-five streak among any active driver at the Virginia short track. Dale Jr. has nine starts at Martinsville. In his last five races there, his average start is 4.4, average finish is 3.8, and he has led laps in all but one race (452 laps total). Dale Jr. has qualified in the top-10 in his last seven races at Martinsville.

-- On the circuit's half-mile tracks (Bristol and Martinsville), the Bud team has not finished worse than 16th in the past 11 races, including one win, eight top-fives, and nine top-10s. In those 11 races, Dale Jr. has led 1,159 laps out of a possible 5,500 (21%).

-- On short tracks (less than a mile in length), Dale Jr. has a 2004 record of two wins (Richmond and Bristol) and four top-five finishes in five races, the most of any driver. His only finish outside the top-three was an 11th in the March Bristol race ... The No. 8 Bud Chevy has led laps in the last seven (total of 759 laps) races and in nine of the last 10 ... Dale Jr. has earned 860 points on short-tracks this year, 111 more than closest competitor Jeff Gordon with 749 points ... The Budweiser team scored more points on short tracks than any other team in 2002 and 2003.

-- At the halfway point of the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, Dale Jr. is in second place, trailing the leader by 24 points. This season the Bud team has scored five wins (tied for series best), 15 top-fives and 20 top-10s. A third place at Charlotte Saturday night gave Dale Jr. a career-best sixth consecutive top-10 finish. Dale Jr. and Kurt Busch are the only drivers to record top-10s in all five "Chase" races.

-dei/budweiser-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch