NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES WEEKLY TOP 10 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. DALE EARNHARDT, JR., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS: On how track, car and tires were during practice: "The track is in great shape, it is real smooth. The tire is a terrible choice,...
NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES WEEKLY TOP 10
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS:
On how track, car and tires were during practice: "The track is in great shape, it is real smooth. The tire is a terrible choice, it is real hard. You can't get a hold of the race track, it is just really really hard. They did an awesome job on the race track."
Is this going to be a wild All-Star race? "I don't know, it is hard to say what we will get."
On qualifying changing strategy: "There is none, you just go as hard as your car will go every lap. That is what I do every week. I don't really know that you can have a strategy, if there is one, I am not smart enough to figure it out."
On enjoying the Challenge: "It is the only one of its kind. I enjoy it; it is a lot of fun. The All-Star race is a fun race. We always have fun."
On any changes in the grip of the track since testing: "Not much, the tire is real hard and it is hard to get a hold of the track. The grip is only going to get worse from here because the asphalt on the track gets older every day. You just go a lot slower that you think you are capable of going. I feel like I am crawling around there. It feels real slow. You can't drive hard, as you want because the car will just slide the tires. It is putting to hard surfaces together. If you have one that is soft and grippy, it will get a hold of that hard surface which is what a tire normally does. They have it real hard, so you can't run real hard and it slides. They had to put a tire underneath us we wouldn't tear up. I don't think they have anything to worry about with this one. It is pretty tough. I am not saying it is wrong, I am just saying it is really really hard. The hardest tire we run is Talladega and this is two steps harder than that. So there is nothing like it."
On what is being learned for 600 next weekend: "I am just trying to get my car where it will get a hold of the race track. We are looking for what ever it takes to get a hold of the track. That is what I am looking for here this weekend, 600 weekend and every weekend after that."
Will you use the same car for 600? "That is up to Jr. (Tony Eury, Jr., crew chief). He knows what he wants to run here. He has the good ideas as far as what kind of car we need for the 600. We normally don't run the same car. It is the same you do at the Shootout at Daytona in February. You bring a car that gets out of here reasonably in one piece, you have reached your expectations."
On team attitude this weekend versus next weekend: "They just get serious next week. Everybody wants to win, there are bragging rights here, but if you don't win, well...oh well. Next week it is back to the same old grind of getting the points, getting the good finishes and winning what you can win. "
On if guy that runs the fastest winning the race: "The guy that wins will be the guy that is going to have the car that can run the best the longest. I know that goes for pretty much any weekend. But with this tire, from what I have seen, I go out there and run about three laps and my tires start chattering around the race track. I have watched guys that I am around and they are chattering around, sliding up the track, slow, pushing and sliding, doing everything they can to hang on to it. So it is going to be won by the guy who has the least of that happening. I talked to Jr. and he told me he knew I had a lot of sh** going on that I didn't like and my car is kind of sliding all over the place but I am not as bad as I think I am. There are a lot of people a lot worse off than you are, which is hard to believe cause that thing is pushing pretty bad."
On whether he would rather have a softer tire and risk failure or tires like this: "There is nothing to be nervous with this tire. It is easy. You just go real slow and ride around. It is not fast, it is really slow. Last year was fun up until you blew a tire. I don't think we can go any faster than we can go right now. I don't think there is another second. I don't think you will spin out, you will just push. The front tires just slide because they are the first one in the corner. With a hard tire, that is how it works. Some guys say they are a little bit loose. Martin (Truex) says he is loose in, I have gotten my car where it is loose but the front still chatters even when it is sliding the back. It is still going to be fun, I am not trying to turn this into a bad thing at all. That tire is real darn hard. I would have rather taken a couple of chances on a softer tire. We are way away from the tire we ran last year, they went a long way. I would have rather met somewhere in the middle even if we would have had to take a few chances. We are going to have guys blow tires. We had guys blow them at the test and it wasn't the tires fault. We had tires that rubbed this or that, that is a setup error. It doesn't break loose all of a sudden type of thing, it just chatters, you can't turn the wheel and the tire slides across the race track. Most everyone I see is pushing."
On inversion game: "I just go. I would feel awful if I got beat by who rode around to get the inversion. I don't think anyone really worries about it, you just go. If I am sitting there and I am running third and it is going to be a whole lot of work to catch the guys in front of me, I probably would just sit and finish third. But I am not sitting in third to get the inversion. I am riding third because I can't catch them. You race what you have. I think the 20-lap run to the finish is ok, but I think 10 laps at the end was better. That was TNT, that was exciting. 20 is a lot of laps, you can just run around there and get bored. But 10 laps was fighting fast, it was the last round of the match if you know what I mean, not 20 laps."
On being a celebrity: "I don't think about that a whole lot. I just go out there and race and have fun, if it makes us popular, that is just a bonus. It gets you to the front of the line every once in a while, so I guess there are a few good perks that go along with it."
On family heritage in racing in the U.S. "We do have a lot of that here. We have a lot of race cars and a lot of racing here. In Formula One where there are only 20 or so guys, other than Villeneuve and his family heritage, there aren't a whole lot of guys with racing heritage. It is a real hard sport to get involved in. You pretty much have to know somebody to get in and if that somebody just happens to be your Daddy, it makes it a lot easier on you that it does on the next guy and allow you to put yourself in good equipment. If it is your family, it is right inside the garage door, right outside the house. I would love to go over there and run, they make a lot of money, but I don't know if I am good enough. Those guys are good over there."
On mental preparation to take chances in the All-Star race: "I don't know that I take more chances or drive any difference. It is a million dollars. If you aren't leading or riding right on the guy who is and go for the lead on the last lap or two, you really don't drive any different. If you are put in that position at the end, that is when you decide what you are going to do that you wouldn't do in a points race. You might give that guy a little benefit of the doubt in the 600 where as in the All-Star race, it might get pretty nasty."
Thoughts on million dollars to the winner of All-Star: "A million dollars is bad a**. To me that is a dang a lot of money. I remember when it was a couple hundred grand. When I won it, it was $500,000. Now it is a million dollars, that is a lot of money. The dollar value to other guys might be different than the dollar value to me, my money value talks different. But it is still enough to get us to do some pretty stupid stuff out there."
On Sport Century special done on him: "I saw it and this is what I think, we told the story and we have all read the story and we have talked about the story and I think this is the best summarization of myself and how I feel about it. How I saw it happen. I was really happy with it. The Driven was really good but I think this is definitely the best if people who want to really know who I am. There might be some things in there that I would rather have skipped. But it is all true and it is all real. I think it is the best job I have seen done."