Budweiser Race Preview: Rockingham (Tuesday Feb. 17, 2004) -- Proximity is what Dale Earnhardt Jr. loves most about North Carolina Motor Speedway. It's close, it's easy to find, and it's usually good for a stress-free week since Rockingham, N.C.
Budweiser Race Preview: Rockingham
(Tuesday Feb. 17, 2004) -- Proximity is what Dale Earnhardt Jr. loves most about North Carolina Motor Speedway. It's close, it's easy to find, and it's usually good for a stress-free week since Rockingham, N.C. is merely a stone's throw away.
That was before he drove the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet to a win in Sunday's Daytona 500, which, after spending 11 days away from home, guaranteed him another two to fulfill media obligations. Junior flew directly from Daytona Beach, Fla., to New York late Monday night, and spent all day Tuesday hammering through a media checklist that included stops at "The Today Show" on NBC, "Live with Regis and Kelly" on ABC, and "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS, just to name a few.
"It's been fun, but hopefully I'll have Wednesday to kinda chill out," said Dale Jr., who admits he hasn't had much sleep since winning the Daytona 500. "I feel like the man at the gas station who has an empty tank of gas and only $1 in his pocket. He's got just enough to get him wherever he needs to go, but that's about it."
Dale Jr. on Rockingham:
"I feel we can be pretty competitive at Rockingham. In the past it was a track we struggled at, but we tested there at the end of last year, and we feel pretty good about going back. It may be the only place we haven't really conquered yet. We've had strong runs there but the results haven't been nothing to brag about."
"Even though we devote a lot of effort and time to restrictor-plate tracks, Rockingham is a track we've emphasized as a place where we need to improve if we're gonna win a championship. We made a big commitment, as a team, to work hard on improving our weak spots. I used to come here with a bad attitude, and it seemed to set the tone for the whole team. I think it's different now. If anything, winning the Daytona 500 gave us more confidence than we already had as a team, and that's probably the one thing we lacked heading into Rockingham in the past."
POST-DAYTONA 500 TIDBITS: Crew chief Tony Eury Sr., better known as "Pops", stirred up a barrel of laughs during the Champion's Breakfast at Daytona USA Monday morning when a reporter asked about his nerves during the final 15 laps of the Daytona 500. Replied Pops, "That was the most nervous I'd been in my whole life. I was so nervous I was looking for the Maalox." ... Dale Jr. and his father, Dale Earnhardt, now account for 43 wins at Daytona International Speedway ... With his win in Monday's conclusion of the Hershey's Kisses 300 Busch Series race, Dale Jr. moved into a tie for 10th with Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett in all-time career wins at Daytona (9) ...