Darlington: Earnhardt Jr, Johnson post qualifying interview

DALE EARNHARDT JR. , NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW/AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS -- QUALIFIED 2ND JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- QUALIFIED 3RD *** HAVING BEEN ON THE NEW SURFACE FOR PRACTICE LAST NIGHT AND TODAY, WHAT ARE YOUR ...

DALE EARNHARDT JR. , NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW/AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS -- QUALIFIED 2ND

JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- QUALIFIED 3RD

***

HAVING BEEN ON THE NEW SURFACE FOR PRACTICE LAST NIGHT AND TODAY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

JUNIOR: "It's going to be a tough race. We're going to have to run really hard all night and the track's going to get faster as it cools down. So you just have to have a lot of nerve because you're going to have to run a lot of hard, fast laps the whole race. But I'm real proud of my whole team. We brought a good car. Right off the trailer it's been fast. We had a good clean lap in qualifying. And we've been toward the front on the speed charts all weekend. I'm real happy with how that's all went and hopefully we'll have some luck tomorrow night. I know we've got a good enough car to get a win."

***

YOU HAD TO GO TO A BACK-UP CAR, BUT YOU STILL POSTED A GREAT QUALIFYING TIME. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

JOHNSON: "I'm just glad I didn't hit anything on that last outing. In some ways it's been a tough day, but in other ways we've had a great race car and have been very competitive. The car has felt very good. I made two mistakes just charging hard and trying to get all I could out of the car. This new surface, they did a great job with it on the track. You cannot really notice the paving seams. There is a lot of grip. They did a great job, but this is one of the more narrow tracks we run on. And the faster you go, the more narrow it makes the track. And it's just tough to run the speeds you commit to. And we've seen a lot of people commit to the corner entry and the speed that you think you need. When something goes wrong, there is just no room to save it. And then you're in the fence. I'm very proud of my guys. I've worked them awfully hard today. We went through two cars and almost needed a third, so I'm just happy to be out of here with a top five starting position and starting in the front. I think it's going to be important tomorrow."

***

ADJUSTING TO THE NEW TRACK, IS IT MORE WORK OR MORE FUN?

JOHNSON: 'It started off fun and then it kind of took a turn for the worse today for me. And now it's back to all right."

JUNIOR: "I think it's fun to try new stuff every time you get to go to a brand new race track. You always look forward to it. The track itself isn't brand new, but the new surface they did a great job on it. And it's pretty fun. I think the second, third, and forth trip it will get even better."

***

YOU LIKE A LOOSE RACE CAR. IS IT TOO LOOSE AND TOO FAST AT THIS TRACK?

JOHNSON: "No. I think at the end of the day it depends on the race that we put on. And the track isn't really loose. The track, in my opinion, has a lot of grip. So we're all becoming very aggressive with our set-ups and also the way you drive the car and the line is there. And once you cross it, there is no room to save the car and you are instantly in the wall. So that's really how we've had so many problems today and yesterday.

But I think loose is going to pay off, especially as the night comes around. Being in traffic, you're going to be even tighter yet. So if you can start with the car loose enough I think it will help you get through the night and you'll be in good shape as the night wears on."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup