Dale Earnhardt Jr became the first driver to win twice last season when he won the Richmond night race twelve months ago, but the Budweiser-backed driver refuses to make any predictions for a repeat in 2001.

After struggling to a 13th place finish in last year's autumn race, many thought that Earnhardt's affair with Richmond may have dimmed, but the youngster insists that the track remains one of his favourites. Richmond is the site of many memorable moments for Dale Jr and the Bud team, including two victories in the Busch Series and their first-ever Winston Cup top ten finish in 1999.

"I'm not going to guarantee anything at Richmond, because we struggled last autumn, but we had always been really good there before that," he explained, "We went to Lakeland, in Florida, a few weeks ago to work on some things for Richmond, and we had a really productive test."

Earnhardt currently lies tenth in the Winston Cup points following his fourth top ten of the season, last Sunday, at California Speedway. The four top ten finishes - in the first ten races of the campaign - matches last year's total for the season, while the DEI-run team has gained 16 positions in the Winston Cup point standings in the last four races with finishes of third, eighth (twice) and eleventh.

"I'm happy that we've been more consistent lately," Earnhardt admitted, "We've improved in points, and we have to be sure we're consistent about being consistent. It's good for the guys, because they can soldier on in the shop to get the next car ready for next week's race with a good attitude. It's tough when you're wrecking a lot of cars and finishing 34th each week to keep that motivation going."

Richmond is the first night race of the season, which bodes well for noted night owl Earnhardt. He won the corresponding race last year, and also grabbed the winner's spoils at the Winston, another night race. The team led 175 laps of last year's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, a race that is predominantly run under lights.

The race at Richmond will be the 50th start of Earnhardt's Winston Cup career, and also the 50th for the #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc Budweiser team.