Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, ...
Quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Driver, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet:
"This weekend is important to me because I'm sick of hearing people say 'oh, he can't drive on a road course.' We've been so close here before and have always come away with some sort of issue that takes away from what we can really do. I want a top-10 so bad here, I can taste it. We finished 11th two years in a row and led some laps. It broke my heart that I didn't get to race the Corvette there in 2004 because of the crash during the morning warm-up. I was angry because it cost that team a chance to race after they had been so good to me, but also because I was really learning a lot and had improved my road racing skills.
"Then, in 2005, we had a car I thought had a chance to win the Cup race but we were trying a new transmission and it locked-up on the first lap and I was in the wall. That was so disappointing - and it was even worse when we fixed the car and I went back out and was still as fast as anyone in a car that was beat-up and taped together. It was frustrating, but it was another sign that I can do this. Last year, we passed more than 15 cars on track, moved into the top-10 and then got taken out by a ringer who was driving like a madman. We tested for a day at VIR (Virginia Intl. Raceway) a few weeks back, and I think this is the weekend we get can get a finish that this team deserves.
"I'm going to take it easy and take a deep breath for a few days this week. It's been a crazy time and I'm going to enjoy taking a few moments to chill and relax for the first time in a long while."
Dale Jr's Sonoma career statistics are not covered in glory. His first few races weren't bad - but resembled the Keystone Kops more than anything.... Such as 2001, when a qualifying run of 37th place meant the team was forced to pit on what was known as "Gilligan's Island," a small, separate pit lane that was stuck inside the final hairpin turn. This meant once the race started, no one could enter or leave the area because the racetrack completely surrounded it. It also meant a short cut versus the regular pit lane, so NASCAR officials would hold the car from re-entering the track for 18 seconds - a penalty that hurt the Bud car after each pit stop. In honor of the pit placement, the No. 8 crew purchased and wore Budweiser bucket hats (ala Gilligan) for raceday... Dale Jr.'s road racing skills have improved annually at Sonoma, despite being the site of his most visually horrific crash when a poorly-designed fuel filler on the Corvette he was driving caused raw fuel to ignite into a fireball after a minor crash into the wall in practice before a Grand-American race in 2004. He suffered a series of burns that have since healed. The most visible scar is the white, rectangular one on the left side of his neck where an air hose connected to his helmet melted in the flames...