'Little E' seeks another memorable Michigan run
August 19, 1999 - NASCAR Online
One of the most memorable races of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s young career happened at Michigan Speedway this year, when he was edged at the finish line by his father in the June 11 International Race of Champions (IROC) event.
The driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet hopes to have another memorable run here on Sunday, when he returns for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 presented by Meijer. If he qualifies, the race will be the third of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career, and first on a track of 2 miles or longer.
In his series debut, the Coca-Cola 600 on May 30 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Earnhardt qualified eighth and finished 16th. In his second event, the July 11 Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, "Little E" qualified 13th but was knocked out of the race after 44 laps because of engine failure.
"I've had a blast in my first two races for Budweiser," said Earnhardt Jr., 24. "Things didn't work out quite how we wanted them to at Loudon, but we're ready to get back in the Budweiser Chevrolet and give it a go at Michigan."
"We're looking forward to seeing Dale Jr. write the next chapter in his Winston Cup career," said Dan Hoffmann, director of Budweiser marketing for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "If his first two races are any indication, Dale Jr.'s presence in the No. 8 Budweiser car will be the talk of the track at Michigan."
The Pepsi 400 is the third of five 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races for which Earnhardt will attempt to qualify. The remaining races are the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400, Sept. 11 at Richmond International Raceway and the NAPA 500, Nov. 21 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In addition to the five NASCAR Winston Cup Series races this year, Earnhardt, the defending NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Champion, is running a full NASCAR Busch Series schedule for ACDelco and is currently leading that series' point standings. He will drive the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet full time on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next year.
Earnhardt has raced three times at Michigan, with two NASCAR Busch Series races in addition to the IROC race in June. In 1998, he qualified 10th and led 13 laps before finishing fifth. In 1997, he qualified 18th and finished seventh.
Along with making his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in Charlotte, Earnhardt ran the NASCAR Busch Series race there, finishing second. With the NASCAR Busch Series NAPA 200 scheduled for Saturday at Michigan, it will be another weekend of "double duty" for one of NASCAR's brightest young stars.
"We're going to stay focused on the Busch race and do what we need to do to win another championship," Earnhardt said. "I'm sure Saturday's race will help us with our setup for the Budweiser car, and with a lot of the Cup guys driving in the Busch race, it should be real exciting. Hopefully I can be competitive with those guys in the 200 and the 400."
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