DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"I feel like I've got something to prove at Pocono, because I've not felt comfortable there in several years, if ever. Not sure why. Our last race there a month ago was probably the best I've felt there in a while, but it still wasn't great. We ran in the top-five, had some issues at the end and finished 14th. I think this weekend is probably going to be our best shot at getting that track figured out for the first time. We're bringing a really good car -- the one we raced at Michigan (finished third) and Chicago (finished fifth). Tony Jr. has taken it back to the shop, cut it up a little bit and made it better. And we're probably bringing the most confidence we've had there in a long time. I'm also pumped up about this weekend because my boxing buddy Arturo Gatti is going for the welterweight belt Saturday night. It's a big fight. I get pumped up when Arturo fights, so maybe that'll help us, too."
On bouncing back after a tough weekend:
"We seem to be able to bounce back strong. What happened at New Hampshire, man, it's life. (Failed engine on lap 136) Fact is you don't get in this business without having mechanical stuff happen every now and again. I've got a good team -- a really, really good team. Even on our bad days we feel like we can finish 10th. We'll keep our heads up and get the points back that we lost this past weekend."
"I'd feel pressure (about the points race for the Chase) if I was on a mediocre team, but I'm not. I feel like we've got one of the best teams in the garage, and we're still in a good position to finish in the top-10, and we also happen to be running well. If we weren't a top-10, top-15 team every week, then I'd be worried. Then I'd feel the pressure."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the Pocono race weekend seventh in points. With only seven races to go before the Chase for the Championship field is set, Dale Jr. is 23 points behind fifth-place Mark Martin and 97 points ahead of 11th-place Tony Stewart. In 19 races, Dale Jr. has one win (Richmond), six top-fives, eight top-10s and 13 top-15 finishes.
POCONO WEEKEND NOTEBOOK:
The #8 Bud team has eight top-15 finishes in its last 10 races.
In 13 career starts at Pocono, Dale Jr. has three top-five finishes and four top-10s. He has led four races there for 89 laps, the most coming in 2001 when he led 31 laps en route to his career-best finish at Pocono of second.
Sunday's finish at New Hampshire was only the fifth races this season outside the top-15.
Dale Jr. has been in the top-10 in points in all but one week this season.