Bristol COT test: Earnhardt Jr visits media

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER IMPALA SS, SPOKE WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA IN THE BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY GARAGE AREA DURING THE TODAY'S LUNCH BREAK. EARNHARDT, JR. AND OTHER TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS ARE TESTING IN PREPARATION FOR THE DEBUT OF...

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER IMPALA SS, SPOKE WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA IN THE BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY GARAGE AREA DURING THE TODAY'S LUNCH BREAK. EARNHARDT, JR. AND OTHER TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS ARE TESTING IN PREPARATION FOR THE DEBUT OF IMPALA SS IN THE FOOD CITY 500 MARCH 25, 2007.

ON DRIVABILITY OF IMPALA SS ON BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "It actually drives better than our other cars do here. The car is an inch wider, it has a little more grip. I am really pleasantly surprised really.

"It has exceeded my expectations at this point and how the car is driving. I anticipated it to be a little more of a struggle get the car to turn, to work, to get it up off the corner. Out laps times are comparable with the other chassis we have been running here the past couple of years. I think we are ahead of the game a little bit, as far as I thought we would be, we are ahead of that."

ON HOW RACING WILL BE AT BMS: "The cars are driving pretty good. The racing should be about exactly the same has it has been because the characteristics of the track won't allow it to be much better."

ON DIFFERENCE IN IMPALA SS SINCE HE WAS IN IT PREVIOUSLY TO TODAY: "It is about the same really. We are going to have a lot of things to figure out when it comes to the mile and mile-and-a-half tracks but here I was really surprised at how well the car drove here at this short track."

ON DIFFERENT SETUPS BEING TRIED TODAY AT BMS: "There are a lot of things you can try with the bump stops and the splitter on the front. You have to do a lot of different things than you normally do. You can't just grind the valance off like you used to or run whatever spring you want. It is like an equation, you have to figure out what works with what. I enjoy the way my car drives. I think we can get it even better. A lot of guys are running really good which gives me promise that it will be ok."

"We haven't went the way yet of a more conventional setup like the other cars, but we will try anything here while we are testing. A lot of guys are trying a lot of different things out there."

ON FEELING SAFER INSIDE THE CAR: "Absolutely. I really do feel safer. The car has a lot of room in it. At testing, it is really aggravating to climb in and out of the car, the old car. It was a struggle getting in and out, a real pain. This car, it is real simple. You can hop out even if you only have two minutes to get out; it is no big deal because you can get right back in.

"But as soon as I sit down in the car, it feels like the same car. I can't tell any different. I thought it would take some getting used to but it doesn't."

ON VISIBILITY WITH WING: "I haven't put a lot of attention to that, but so far, I can see what I need to see. "

ON IMPALA SS REACTING TO HIGH BANKS VERSUS MONTE CARLO SS: "With the other car, you could just go down in there and slam on the valance and grind off the valance. With this car it slams on the splitter and you slide and bounce, you have to get it off the splitter. You can't run on the splitter. You have to get it as close to the ground as you can; there is a fine line there. Any small adjustment or change might get you back on the splitter so you have to do a lot of reading of the data on the computer to see what the car is doing.

"The biggest difference is you have a little bit more grip, other than that, it is very similar. The best thing about the car is the room. I like the car--here."

ON BEING BETTER TO START WITH IMPALA SS ON BRISTOL HIGH BANKS: "I think it is good to get as much knowledge about the car as you can on a track like this (BMS) where it is a little more forgiving."

ON BEING TO GATHER KNOWLEDGE FROM HERE THAT WILL APPLY TO OTHER TRACKS: "We will get knowledge about the travel and where the splitter is at. Where you need to keep the car off the ground. All kinds of stuff like that.

"It is a concern when we show up at other tracks with this car but it is like everything else. You just try to cover all of your bases. We showed up here and we are really close and in the ballpark. That is nice. You don't want to be scrambling and a second off when you unload the car and work a couple hours just to try to get close. We were really close when we unloaded. That was really really nice. That is hopefully what happens everywhere. That is what you want when you go to other race tracks, mile-and-a-half and others."

WILL PHOENIX BE A TOUGHER TEST FOR THE IMPALA SS: "Phoenix will be a great test for these car. That is a sort of flat race track. We won't be have to be to worried about having to stay off the splitter like we do here. Having the car travel so much like it does here at Bristol and being on the splitter is a worry because when you are on the splitter, the car is really hard to drive. At Phoenix, it will be a little easier to keep it off the splitter and run a little softer setup. When we get to the Michigans and places like that with this car, we will really be scrambling to learn as much as we can as fast as we can."

ON IMPALA SS AT MARTINSVILLE: "That is a good question. I think the tire will probably get in to the curbing first but you can hang that splitter on it too. It really doesn't matter. You can go in there and lay on it really hard and break it off and not have to worry about it. Aerodynamics there is no big deal. If I could, I would like to take my fenders off at the start of the race which would really make it drive great."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup