Phoenix II: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

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

Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet: "It's really getting down to the end of a great era. I can't explain how much fun I've had working with these guys on my team. That's one of the bad things about moving on (to a new team) at the end of the year. I'm looking forward to my new deal, but it's also really tough to leave these guys. We've done it twice before at Phoenix when we needed a win and we need one now. Our Car of Tomorrow program has been superb, so we expect to go in there and be fast like we have been everywhere else. I'd like to keep my streak going (Dale Jr. has won a race in seven consecutive seasons but has yet to score a victory this year), but most of all I want to win one for my fans and for these guys. It's been a rough season to get out of the car at the end of each race and know everyone poured everything into that car but we've still not won one."

Minutiae:

Dale Jr. has won the November race at Phoenix twice, taking the trophy home in 2003 (career Cup win #9) and 2004 (career win #15 and the sixth victory of his career-best season)... Between Nov. 2002 and April 2005, he finished no worse than fifth at Phoenix (including the two victories) and led 310 laps in that span. Oddly enough, after that string of success, he has not led a lap there since... At the most recent race in April, the Bud car was among the top-10 for nearly 90 percent of the race, but a yellow flag immediately after their final pit stop dropped the team to the final spot among the lead lap cars and Dale Jr. was able to fight back to a 19th place finish. After the race, Dale Jr. made a mad dash through the crowds to victory lane to greet Jeff Gordon, whose victory that evening tied him with the late Dale Earnhardt for Cup victories...

This Bud's for You:

In the final 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:

His victory in 2003 was a long-overdue win at the one-mile oval, but the 2004 victory at Phoenix was more dramatic for several reasons. It was the sixth and final victory of the Bud team's most successful season, and marked their second win in the inaugural Chase for the Championship. Dale Jr. led 118 laps, but had to fight back to the front from 11th place after a late pit stop based on fuel strategy which paid-off. However, the win came one week after a late-race crash at Atlanta when Carl Edwards took out the Bud car, essentially ending their bid for a championship that season. The tension within the team was very high (and would later be cited as a key reason for the disastrous decision to "swap" teams for 2005), yet they pulled together to grab a victory and - mathematically at least - keep themselves in the hunt for the title. Dale Jr. would end-up a career-best third place in points at the end of the 2004 Chase.

Memorable Quotes from Dale Jr. after the 2004 Phoenix victory:

Dale Jr. always dislikes the long flights to the west coast, and only victory makes it tolerable: "It's that long trip out here and back. If you don't bring home the trophy, it's a long ride home. When we come to the west coast we want to showcase our abilities and our talents out here. It's just great to win here. The team did a great job. I was really surprised at how good a racecar it really was. There at the end, to get by those guys was effortless. The car was just awesome. I just had to make sure I didn't get run into or spun out or do anything foolish like I did last week. I had a great car and we won the race and I'm real proud of my team. I can't say enough about this effort. I'm really proud of my team. I'm really lucky to race and make a living with people I enjoy being with."

It also marked the second year of what had become a Phoenix -ahem- "tradition" of enthusiastic female fans providing a live version of "Girls Gone Wild" for Driver #8 and the assembled media... When the first 'incident' took place in 2003, Dale Jr. paused and then delivered a line with the dead-on accuracy of a veteran comic... "I guess the NASCAR demographics are changing...," he muttered to a stunned media corps who responded with uproarious laughter.

Primary Chassis this week: #048 / Chevrolet Impala SS Car o' Tomorrow

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Carl Edwards