DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, has one focus when it comes to this weekend’s Budweiser Shootout -- capture the lead.
“You just run hard,” Earnhardt said. “Get the lead, stay in the lead -- that’s all you're thinking all the way around the track. You got to run it like a short Daytona 500.”
Earnhardt, who has several Daytona victories to his credit, notably went to Victory Lane in the 2008 Shootout event -- his first race driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt anticipates his experience will help him, especially navigating the newly repaved 2.5-mile speedway.
“My experience and confidence in racing at Daytona should be a benefit to me,” Earnhardt said. “All the characteristics of the wind and the draft will be the same. I think it will be smooth, and I think it will be an exciting race.”
In 10 Shootout events, Earnhardt has won in 2003 and 2008 and was the runner-up in 2002, 2004 and 2006. He has finished outside the top 10 only three times, including last season when he finished 11th.
For the Budweiser Shootout, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 engineers have chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-633. The chassis will be adorned with the blue-and-white paint scheme. This is a brand new chassis that was tested at Daytona in December.
The Shootout will air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on FOX.