Atlanta II: Earnhardt Jr - GM Friday interview

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS will start fifth in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500, spoke after his qualifying effort at Atlanta Motor Speedway: ON NOT MAKING THE CHASE: "We feel we missed a great opportunity this year with a...

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS will start fifth in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500, spoke after his qualifying effort at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

ON NOT MAKING THE CHASE: "We feel we missed a great opportunity this year with a great chance of winning the championship and challenging for it. And we're really ticked off about that. It's not so much (about) finishing 13th that we don't want to get passed by anybody, because we feel like we're a top five team. We've run in the top five every week. I don't think anybody even realizes you know, because when we blow a motor and fall out of the race, the story is who won and how exciting the race was. We're lost in the back of the newspaper somewhere and we get no credit for how good we've been. As far as handling and running up front, I've never ran up front as often as I have this year. I never have. This year I've been going to the race track and been in the top five 95 percent of the races and I've never been that way before and it's a shame we won't be able to get the credit or the attaboy for it."

IN TERMS OF WHAT YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH, WAS IT TWO YEARS AGO THAT THE PRESSURE WAS OFF AND YOU WERE ABLE TO RACE AND HAVE FUN AND WORK ON SOME THINGS? "No, not really. Because I'm going somewhere next year, there's really no build toward next year as far as the mentality here with me. Now these guys (the crew), the guys who know they're going to stick around and work on this car next year, they're probably looking forward to next year and building relationships and trust amongst each other. They'll probably have that mentality and I'm trying to not hurt that or slow that down or get in the way of that. I'm trying to drive hard and help them learn what they need to learn and get what they need to get. There ain't no pressure. I feel ridiculous going winless this year because we should have won. I feel pretty gypped, you know."

HOW IS YOUR CAR? "It's pretty good. We had two other sets of tires I liked better in practice, but we chose these to qualify on and once you choose them, you can't go back. And I think they were about the third best set. So, I feel like the car drove pretty good but with those other two sets of tires the car drove better in this afternoon's practice. But I was really happy. The car drives great. We always do good here and I feel confident."

IS QUALIFYING REALLY THAT IMPORTANT HERE BECAUSE THE TRACK IS SO WIDE? "No, we've qualified really bad here before and drove right to the front. It's more of a bragging rights and pride - a lot of pride in it.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr.