Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team: You've won five Cup races at Talladega... "Talladega is a special place to me, always has been, always will be. I love racing there. I love winning there. It's definitely one of my favorite...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- driver, No. 8 Budweiser team:
You've won five Cup races at Talladega...
"Talladega is a special place to me, always has been, always will be. I love racing there. I love winning there. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks. (Crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr. has had Talladega marked on his calendar for awhile, and he's been putting in overtime to get this car ready. I feel we need to redeem ourselves after our last race (finished 15th in the May race after being collected in a six-car crash two laps from the finish). The wreck was a bad deal, but we weren't that good to begin with. This is the same car we raced in May, and we've done a lot of work on it to make it better. Tony Jr. is really good at building and preparing restrictor-plate cars. Our grandpa was Robert Gee, and Robert Gee was the best in the business when it came to hanging bodies on cars, so Tony Jr. learned from the best. Tony Jr. spent a lot of time with him learning how to hang bodies for different types of tracks. He is certainly one of the reasons we've had success at restrictor-plate tracks."
Talk about the art of bump-drafting at restrictor-plate tracks.
"I love doing it, but today's bump-drafting ain't like it used to be. It ain't your daddy's bump-drafting. You use to give a bump here, give a bump there, and push the guy in front of you past another car. Now it's more like slam-drafting. At Talladega we hit each other hard. It feels like being hit by a sledgehammer. The car we're taking this weekend had to have a whole new rear clip put on it, because it was so banged up from the last plate race. But it's a part of it. Some guys don't like it, but I think it's fun. If you do it right, it can be a big advantage, but if you don't... it isn't pretty."
BUDWEISER QUICK NOTES: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team enter the Talladega race weekend 17th in the Nextel Cup point standings, 153 points out of 11th position and the $1 million season-ending payout. Dale Jr. has one win, six top-fives and 11 top-10s through 28 races in 2005.
TALLADEGA TIDBITS: In this race last year, Dale Jr. started fifth and led 78 laps en route to his fifth victory at Talladega. Junior was in 11th position on a lap-184 restart (four laps from the finish) but needed only two circuits to take the lead for the ninth and final time. More of Junior's accolades at this 2.66-mile speedway:
-- Five victories, including a win in last year's EA Sports 500 on Oct. 3.
-- Has finished first or second in seven of his last eight races.
-- Enjoyed a track record string of four consecutive victories from Oct. 21, 2001 to April 6, 2003.
-- Finished in the top-10 in eight of his last nine races.
-- His 8.0 average finish is best among all active drivers with more than one start.
-- Is eighth all-time in laps led with 492. Has led laps in 10 of his 11 career races. The only race in which he did not lead a lap was his very first (April 16, 2000).
-- One of only five drivers to post a season-sweep at Talladega: Dale Jr. (2002), Dale Earnhardt (1990, 1999), Darrell Waltrip (1982), Buddy Baker (1975) and Pete Hamilton (1970).
-- Coupled with his father's unprecedented 10 wins, an Earnhardt has gone to Victory Lane 15 times in Cup races at Talladega.
DALE JR. ON RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS:
-- Seven victories (two at Daytona, five at Talladega) in 23 career starts.
-- Has finished third or better in seven of his last eight "plate" events.
-- Has led at least one lap in his last 12 of his last 13 "plate" races.
-- Has led a total of 771 laps at "plate" tracks. Has failed to lead a lap in only five of his 23 starts.
-- Was the only driver to score top-five finishes in all four "plate" races in 2004, two of which were victories.
-- Scored 725 points in restrictor-plate races in 2004, the second time in four years he posted the most "plate" points.
-- Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) teams have won 11 of the last 19 races on restrictor-plate tracks.