Earnhardt Jr. / Budweiser Race Preview Dale Jr. Quotes for The Winston On the final lap of last year's The Winston, a fast-closing Dale Jr. bumped leader Ryan Newman, but backed off to prevent Newman from crashing. Newman won, while Dale Jr.
Earnhardt Jr. / Budweiser Race Preview
Dale Jr. Quotes for The Winston
On the final lap of last year's The Winston, a fast-closing Dale Jr. bumped leader Ryan Newman, but backed off to prevent Newman from crashing. Newman won, while Dale Jr. finished second
"I've replayed that thing in my head over and over about how I could have done it differently... how I could have or should have passed him and won that race. I felt like I did the right thing by not crashing him, but it's not like it was really a conscious decision. It all happens so fast; it's over before your brain realizes what your right foot has done. The Eury's (Tony, crew chief and Tony Jr., car chief) wanted to win so badly, and I wanted to win it for them and everybody else that's pulling for us, but it was the right decision at that split-second for me to make. The money wasn't worth the reaction it would have caused. I couldn't look in the mirror the next day, knowing I had crashed somebody to win it.
"The winner gets a million dollars this year?! I like the sound of that. Last year, I said I would race just as hard if the winner got 10 bucks, but a million to win certainly gets your attention. Is it about the money? I should say 'no,' but, hell yeah- a million dollars is a million dollars, ya know?
"We've been focused so much this year on the big picture -- getting the championship -- but for this one, there are no points on the line, so we're going to let it hang out. That's what I love, and that's what my entire team loves. It's all about guts.
"This is one of the best nights of the year for me, even though I hate waiting all day and night for it to start (approx. 9 pm). I think this is how it should be every week: a real show... smoke and lights and fireworks. It has this energy that no other event generates. It's more like a rock-and-roll concert than any other race, so I like that part of it. Most of all, I like the format of the race -- no points, no holding back, no messin' around- just put your foot to the floor and let's see who's the best. Plus, I can sleep in my own bed when the night is done. <pre> Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Bud Team at The Winston Previous Starts: 3 Best Start: 5th (2000) Best Finish: 1st (2000) This Race, Last Year: ST: 24th / FIN: 2nd </pre> Dale Jr. was the first rookie to win The Winston in 2000. He now shares that record with Ryan Newman.
In non-points-paying or all-star-type Winston Cup races, the Budweiser team and Dale Jr. have three victories and a finishing average of 2.8 in ten career starts. The team has never finished worse than seventh, and has won or finished second in each non-points race since the Winston in 2001. <pre> The finishes: The Winston: 2nd (2002), 7th (2001), 1st (2000) The Budweiser Shootout: 1st (2003), 2nd (2002), 6th (2001) Twin-125 Qualifiers: 1st (2003), 2nd (2002), 2nd (2001), 4th (2000) </pre>
Even the worst finish in that span -- The Winston, 2001 -- was impressive, as Dale Jr. went from 20th place to 7th, passing 13 cars in the final 10 laps.
Dale Jr holds the track record for Winston Cup cars at Lowe's Motor Speedway, turning a lap at an average speed of 186.034 mph in 2000.
The Budweiser team has twice won a million dollar purse from Winston. (The defunct 'No-Bull 5' program at Talladega, in Oct. 2001 and Oct. 2002)
Dale Jr. made his Winston Cup debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway at the Coca-Cola 600 in 1999. He qualified 8th and finished 16th.
Props to the Peeps
Dale Jr. is not the only Budweiser-sponsored driver having a good season on four wheels. Brandon Bernstein stepped into the Budweiser Top Fuel dragster after his legendary father, Kenny, retired as a driver. Brandon, as a rookie, has won three out of the first seven NHRA National events and is currently second in points.
Robby Gordon (yes, THAT Robby Gordon) qualified the Andretti/Green Budweiser-sponsored car for the front row for this year's Indianapolis 500. Budweiser had signed to sponsor popular Scotsman Dario Franchitti for the 500, but when Franchitti, the husband of Ashley Judd, (yes, THAT Ashley Judd) hurt his back, the Andretti/Green team opted to put Gordon in the car.