Quotes from: DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, ...
Quotes from: DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
On being fifth in the points with five races to go:
"We're in good shape considering we finally got our first good finish of the Chase (a fourth-place finish at Charlotte). We're still in it, and we've got good tracks coming up. Jeff (Burton) has been at this a long time, but I don't look at him as indestructible. If he has a mistake or even a couple of bad runs, it will completely shake up the points. In the first two races of the Chase, we finished 13th and 21st, and that put us 100 points out. We didn't blow up or anything. It was just a case of a good car getting mediocre finishes. So anything can happen. I was happy with how we hung in and got a top-five Saturday night at Charlotte. We didn't gain any points on Burton, but we gained a position in the standings and drew closer to the guys in front of us."
What concerns you most about Martinsville?
"Brakes! Just getting the brakes to work all day. You can really wear 'em out at Martinsville, so the key is trying to save them throughout the race and saving your equipment for the end. It's a tough little ol' track, because you can never get away from anybody. There's always someone to race, whether it's a lap-down car or for position. We need to qualify a little better than we did last time so we don't get caught up in some crashes. I think the last three times we've been there, the best we've started was 20th. But we're taking a good car. It's the one we finished fourth with at Martinsville last time, so we should be able to race like hell and give 'em a show!"
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the Martinsville race weekend fifth in the Nextel Cup point standings, an improvement of one spot from a week ago. At the halfway point of the Chase for the Championship Dale Jr. is 106 points behind leader Jeff Burton and four points behind fourth-place Mark Martin. Junior enters the weekend after a fourth-place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway, his ninth top-five of the season. He also has one win (Richmond) and 14 top-10s.
MARTINSVILLE FLASHBACK: One of Dale Jr.'s most impressive drives of the 2006 season came during the April race at Martinsville, where he started 29th, overcame two wrecks, and drove 498 of the 500 laps with his one-third of his front fender completely missing to finish fourth. The Bud pit crew was equally as impressive, repairing a missing brake duct and making seven pit stops over the course of two cautions on one of the shortest Nextel Cup tracks to keep the #8 Chevy on the lead lap and competing for one of its nine top-fives this season.
Martinsville Weekend Notebook
-- Dale Jr. has six top-five finishes in the last nine Martinsville races.
-- Junior has a 14.384 average finish at Martinsville, ranking fifth among the 10 Chase drivers. The team's average finish in the first four Martinsville starts was 25th position, before clicking off six top-five finishes in the last nine starts.
-- 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.
-- Junior's only win in 2006 came on a short track, the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway.
-- The Bud team has now led 15 races in 2006 for 301 laps. His 37 laps led in Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway marked the third consecutive race that Junior has paced the field.
-- Dale Jr. has scored top-10 finishes in two of the five Chase races.