DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Atlanta Motor Speedway and discussed the Atlanta track tire, and more. HOW IS YOUR CAR? "We're workin' on it. We got a little ways to go. We were...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Atlanta Motor Speedway and discussed the Atlanta track tire, and more.
HOW IS YOUR CAR? "We're workin' on it. We got a little ways to go. We were gaining on it pretty good there. The practice is so short, it is hard. We are workin' really hard.
IS IT SLICK OUT THERE? "It is slick. It is an old race track. It is like Rockingham used to be years ago. I don't mind it, it is fine."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES TOMORROW? "We always run good here, we need this next practice to go well for us to gain. We are tryin', we are running a different setup totally than we ran last year. Exact opposite really. I think we can get it working better and get it dialed in. It is hard to say if it will be as good as it was last year. It seems to be the direction we need to try to learn and try to go for the rest of the season, so we kinda ain't got much of a choice but to keep working on it and try to make it work here."
SEVERAL DRIVERS HAVE SAID THEY THINK THAT THIS TIRE PACKAGE IS WORSE THAN LAST FALL'S TIRE PACKAGE FROM A GRIP PERSPECTIVE, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE? "I'll join 'em. I don't want to say too much though. We ain't really run a race yet. It is a handful man. It is handful. I kind of like how the track surface is but I am running a different setup too so I don't know. If I had my old setup, I might be able to do a better job of comparing apples to apples."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MARK MARTIN BEING ON THE POLE AND THE LAP HE BUSTED OFF? "He is fast. He is a good driver and it is good for that team. It gives them a good confidence boost and kinda confirms that they made the right choice with Mark this season."
WHAT KIND OF A RACE ARE WE LOOKING AT FOR TOMORROW? "I don't think everybody is going to be wrecking. It will be a bunch of guys trying not to wreck."
IN A PERFECT WORLD WHAT DO YOU NEED THESE TIRES TO DO? "I think that you want a certain amount of grip. Everybody is different about what they like. I like a stiffer sidewall. I like less sidewall deflection. I like soft leftside sidewalls so the car rotates through the turns good. Everybody is different in what they like about the tires and what they have tested before. I don't care what they do as far as falloff. I don't care if they fall off a ton. I mean, that doesn't really bother me. This is an old surface and in this part of the country, these solid surfaces, we are sort of close the Rockingham - Darlington area where you get a lot of age in the track and it turns gray and does like it is. The track surface is really slick. It is a challenge to get a tire to work on it. We'll figure it out."
ARE THE OTHER TRACKS THAT YOU RACE AT SO MUCH EASIER TO DRIVE AT THAT THIS IS A LITTLE BIT OF A CHALLENGE THAT IT SEEMS MORE THAN A CHALLENGE THAN WHAT IT IS AND MAYBE SOME UNNECESSARY GRIPING? "I don't think it is unnecessary griping because the track surface was about the same about four or five years ago. When we came out of the box, we felt like...four, five years, even three years ago, we had a better handle on the tire I felt like, and the track and how things were going. The cars drove better. Hell, everybody loved it and everybody loved coming here. Just in a matter of a year or two, we seem to have confused ourselves. I don't know, I don't know why we aren't as comfortable here as we used to be, but it is definitely a big difference than two or three years ago and it's not because it is a difference in the track, it was already wore out a couple years ago. It is a big race track and really really wore out and slick and it is hard to get power down and go fast as...you got long straightaways so you are haulin' butt down the this long, long straightaway in to a washboard and it is hard to get a hold of it. It is fun. I think all the drivers enjoy the challenge of the track that it presents. But the tire I felt we had a better understanding and a better comfort level several years ago."
HOW MUCH HAS TO DO WITH THE NEW CAR? "100%. This is a hell of an excuse for a race car. It is hard to drive. It makes everybody's job harder, even Goodyear's."
-credit: gm racing