DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET:
On the chances of repeating the top-10 at Daytona this weekend at Talladega:
"I think we can be better than we were at Daytona. We're always working hard on our restrictor-plate program, and both me and Martin (Truex Jr.) really like racing at Talladega. Hopefully we can work together and be around at the end to try to win it. The key to Talladega is always the same -- race hard, draft well, hope you make it through the wrecks, and be around at the end. The last time at Talladega, we had a car that was every bit as good as any car we've taken to Daytona, but we were caught up in a wreck early on. That was pretty disappointing."
On his past success at Talladega (notes below):
"Talladega has definitely been good for the Earnhardts. We've won five races there, and Daddy won twice as many, and it's just been a really good race track for us. I have a deep respect and understanding for the history of our sport, and Talladega is very much a part of that history. A lot of great drivers have raced there and won there, and the fans are deeply passionate about the sport."
On NASCAR's attempt to reduce bump-drafting by mandating the use of "soft bumpers" on the cars:
"I don't think it'll make that much difference. A lot of guys are going to go out there in practice and see how soft (the bumpers) really are -- what they can take and what they can't take. We'll have an opportunity to find that out and know exactly what we got for the race. When the race comes, we will know exactly how hard we can use them, what we can use them for, stuff like that. I hate that it had to come to that, but it's probably better than the situation we had."
How will repaving the track impact the racing when the Nextel Cup Series returns in October?
"It'll make it smoother. There's a lot of bumps and cracks around that place. Usually when you repave a track, it gives you more grip, but Talladega has never had that problem. You can pretty much hold it wide open and not slide around. Daytona is different. You definitely can have grip issues there. Repaving Talladega will just make it smoother, which is good."
Does Chevrolet have the advantage at restrictor-plate tracks?
"It is pretty much anybody's race everywhere we go. When you have common templates, the bodies are the same except for a few character lines here and there. You can't really say anybody has a huge advantage, and I don't think anyone has a massive advantage on engines. I think the advantage on engines is who is building them, not what type of engine it is. You don't really look at the manufacturers any more as one having an advantage over the other like you used to in years past. You have to look at how many quality teams are with that manufacturer. That has a lot to do with who is going to get the manufacturers points."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team is tied for sixth with Jeff Gordon in the Nextel Cup point standings, 173 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and 96 points out of fifth. Dale Jr. has two top-fives and three top-10s in eight races in 2006. The #8 Bud car has led two races this year for a total of 33 laps.
TALLADEGA TIDBITS: Dale Jr. has compiled quite a track record at Talladega Superspeedway, including five victories and two second-place finishes in only 12 starts.