Pocono II: Dale Earnhardt Jr preview

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: "The plan is to rest and take it easy this week so I'll be ready to do 500 miles Sunday. The burns heal a little more every day, but I'm still in a lot of pain. I felt pretty good inside the...

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

"The plan is to rest and take it easy this week so I'll be ready to do 500 miles Sunday. The burns heal a little more every day, but I'm still in a lot of pain. I felt pretty good inside the car, but I'm going to need all my strength. Pocono can wear you out even when you're 100 percent healthy. I couldn't have finished 300 laps (at New Hampshire) but I'm going to do all I can to get through this and be ready to go this week. I owe it to my team. They've worked so hard for so many years to put us in a place where we're in position to grab a championship, and I owe it to my sponsors and especially my fans. Everyone has been really supportive of me and that means a lot. Anybody can be cool and get along great when you're winning races and kicking butt, but when things don't go right, it's important to have that support behind me."

Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team have four top-10s in nine races at Pocono Raceway and have finished no worse than sixth in the last three events at the unique 2.5-mile tri-oval. Dale Jr. has led at Pocono four times for 89 laps and has been running at the finish in each of his nine events there.

With seven races to go before the "Chase for the Championship" begins, Dale Jr. remains in second place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings (-165 behind Jimmie Johnson) after a split-duty weekend at New Hampshire. Dale Jr. completed 61 laps in Sunday's Siemens 300 before turning the car over to relief driver Martin Truex Jr., who took the checkers in 31st. Dale Jr. is still recovering from injuries sustained in an American LeMans Series race in Sonoma, Calif., but is hoping to attempt the full 500-mile race at Pocono. Should Dale Jr. not be able to run the full race, John Andretti will stand by as a relief driver in case needed.

Andretti, who drives a part-time schedule for Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s No. 1 team, has 20 races under his belt at Pocono. He has five top-five finishes there, including a second-place finish in June, 2000.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , John Andretti , Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr.