DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed how Danica has improved his team, how he feels coming into the season and his chances of winning this year’s 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

SO ARE YOU GOING TO WIN THE 500? “Man we are going to try.”

IS IT TO THE POINT NOW WHERE’S IT’S A LEGITIMATE ONE IN 43 SHOT FOR EVERYBODY? “Oh yeah. Everybody I think. At least 35 have a good shot at it.”

AFTER TREVOR (BAYNE) WON IT DID THAT CHANGE THE THOUGHT PROCESS THAT IT REALLY WAS AN OPEN FIELD? “No, I kind of knew it was a lottery for a while. Take nothing against Trevor I mean he did what he had to do to win the race. He made some great moves and won that race on his own. He was very smart about how he drove his car. You just don’t know who is going to come off of turn four battling for this thing anymore like before. When Dale Jarrett was in the No. 88, you knew they were going to be strong. You can guess this that and the other and make some predictions that would always come true but now not so much.”

YOU WERE PRETTY FRUSTRATED WHEN YOU LEFT HERE IN JULY WITH THE RACING, ARE YOU ENCOURAGED WITH THE THOUGHT IT COULD BE LESS TANDEM? “I’m encouraged with the work we tried. I don’t mind failing but I was happy that we tried and made a lot of changes to try to fix it and try to change it and try to get some things back in the driver’s hands.”

DO YOU THINK IT WILL WORK THOUGH? “Well I won’t know until this weekend is over with or I won’t know until the Daytona 500 is over with if we worked hard enough.”

WILL IT BE A BIGGER WIN FOR YOU IN THE 500 OR DANICA? “Me, me! She don’t driver for me in the 500 so it wouldn’t matter to me if she won it. If I win it, it would be a big deal for me! As far as what everybody else thinks, everybody is going to have a different opinion about that.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THAT SHE ACTUALLY BRINGS TO THIS RACE BEYOND THE MARKETING THING? “I don’t know.” THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT FOR HER AS DRIVER AS OPPOSED TO LETTING HER HERE BECAUSE IT’S A GREAT MARKETING BONANZA FOR THE SPORT. “I think she does great driving. I’ve watched her in the Nationwide Series and thinks she does a great job. People may need to watch more Nationwide races. People comment without having any knowledge. They can make ignorant statement just based on what they want to believe. What they want to accept and not accept. I’ve watched her race and I think she does great and I’ve enjoyed watching her race. She made my team better and I didn’t even think about that. We’ve been asking the question for so many months of what she would do for this sport and what has she done for the sport but one of the things I didn’t anticipate was how she made my team better. As a person she’s good to be around. She’s engaging and fun for Tony (Eury) Jr. and the team to be around. They enjoy going to the track with her and working with her. So my company improved working with her. We didn’t take a step back. As the year went on our company progressed. So that was great. I was real happy about that because I own the thing.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HER BEHIND THE SCENES THAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW OR THAT YOU FIND PERHAPS SURPRISING? “I don’t have anything. She goes to the race track and races. I don’t really dig into her personal life. Nothing about her was an ‘oh shit’ moment for me, it was just she’s seems normal, she works hard, she shows up to race, there’s nothing about her that’s quirky or weird, different or surprising to me. I kind of knew her a little bit before and its basically what I imagined it was as far as being around her more often once I got to be around her a little more and what was she really like as a driver and how dedicated and focused she was. She’s pretty intense.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL COMING INTO THIS SEASON? “I feel pretty good. I’m frustrated that we didn’t win last year, we came close. I’m ready to get back to that. I’m ready to get chances again. I want to win a race pretty bad but I can’t do that without racing and we haven’t been doing any so it’s been a little frustrating. Daytona, this is probably the worst odds for me all year because of the way the racing is here. This is going to be a fun experience but I’m looking forward to getting to Phoenix and the rest of the tracks to start really getting control of my destiny and trying to make some things happen for me and win some races.”

ANY CHANCES THIS CAN BE A SINGLE-FILE RACE? “No.” WHY NOT? “Because everybody is going to be on top of each other. It just won’t happen. The track, it just won’t happen no way. I will be so, so, so surprised if that is what ends up happening.” DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE TWO-CAR DRAFT? “No, I don’t know. I don’t know if tandem is going to work or not. I know we tested; tandem’s was hard to do. It was doable but it was hard to do and you run hot. Guys went home and studied. I’m sure people did their homework and some people figured some things out. So some people will probably get the tandem to work again and it will be lights out and they will be gone.”

THIS PLACE HAS BEEN SO SPECIAL FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, DOES IT LOSE ITS LUSTER A LITTLE BIT WITH THE RACING THE WAY IT IS NOW, YOU TALKED ABOUT BEING READY TO GO TO PHOENIX ALREADY? “That’s not what I said; this race is going to be fun. This weekend will be enjoyable but I am looking forward to going to Phoenix because I know I have better odds of winning there. That’s what I meant. I look forward to going to tracks where I’m driving the car, where I can make a difference. I don’t know what is going to happen in the Daytona 500, I don’t even have a clue what the race is going to be like now and that’s frustrating but that’s just the way it is. We’ll go through Shootout practice tomorrow and get the chance to practice a little bit and see what works and doesn’t work. Then we’ll run the Shootout and really see some people play their hand and see what we’re capable of doing and after that race we’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect the rest of the week. Right now I have no knowledge and it’s frustrating as a driver to go in a situation like that. Everything we’re going to have to learn, we’re going to have to learn really fast in just a few hours of practice. Just waiting to get that going, waiting to get that practice started and see what kind of racing we are going to be doing.”

IS THAT SOMEWHAT STRANGE FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU USED TO COME DOWN HERE AND EVERYBODY TALKED ABOUT YOU BEING A DRIVER TO BEAT HERE AND NOW LIKE YOU SAID ITS LIKE A CRAP SHOOT? “That’s just the way it is. We did a lot of work this off season. To NASCAR’s credit they’ve been working really hard trying to put it back into the driver’s hands and give the driver’s control of their destiny instead of pairing up and having to take care of each other out there on the race track all the time. You want to be stubborn and looking out for yourself only, that’s how you want to do it so they are trying to go in that direction. I give them a lot of credit for trying really hard and hopefully we made a lot of good changes so we will see. Everybody is really gotta be anticipated, it’s got to be exciting for everybody, fans, media anticipate what’s going to happen tomorrow and the Shootout Saturday night. There should be a lot of people glued to the action.”

YOU MENTIONED HOW DANICA HAD IMPACTED YOUR TEAM IN A POSITIVE WAY, HOW DO YOU SEE HER IMPACTING THE NATIONWIDE SERIES AS A WHOLE IS THERE ANY SORT OF AN ECONOMIC BENEFIT MAYBE SOME TEAMS ARE GOING TO GET BECAUSE SHE IS RACING FULL-TIME THERE? “I don’t know. I’m sure she brings exposure and exposure will get the notice of corporate America and pay pull a few triggers but I don’t really know. It’s a good thing; it’s not a bad thing. Obviously everybody knows it’s that but I don’t know how you measure something like that.”

IN YOUR OPINION THE RACING IN THE DAYTONA 500 WILL HAVE BEEN A SUCCESS IF … “If it’s like anywhere from like the 2000, look at all the Gatorade races from 2001 and 2 002, 2003, those races were awesome. That’s the kind of racing we want.”

IF YOU HAD KNOWN THIS WAS THE KIND OF RACING WE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN WITH THE TRACK REPAVING WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN SO VOCAL ABOUT THE TRACK GETTING REPAVED? “Yeah, Carl Edwards was right. He’s the one that said they shouldn’t repave it. Maybe they should have just fixed a few spots. I didn’t like it as rough as it was but I really, really loved the lack of grip. I wouldn’t have minded it being smoother. They changed the ratio of the mix and when they come down here, not only when you pave on the Eastern Seaboard you get a lot of seashells. Darlington used to use a lot of seashells and Rockingham would too. They changed the ratio and they put rubber and stuff in asphalt now and all kinds of different things to make it really last a long time. That Charlotte track kind of scares me because they paved it a while ago and it’s still like it’s freshly paved. It hasn’t worn, it’s not gotten slicker and that worries me a little bit.” FOR THIS PLACE? “For every place they pave. What if none of them wear out, that won’t be good at all.”

BESIDE FROM WINNING, WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF SHOWING YOUR HAND IN THE SHOOTOUT? “You’ve got to point. Some people probably won’t show their hand in practice. Practice might be just a small taste of what is going to happen. I think in the Shootout it will matter enough to everybody. Once you get out there and you get the drivers out there, nobody is going to hold back. Nobody is going to put anything in their pocket and save it. We’re all pretty ignorant out there, we want to win. We want to do whatever it takes to win and you forget about who is watching, who is listening and all that stuff. Maybe your crew chief might not put things on your car that don’t need to be on there for that race that he might save for the 500, that might be smart for your crew chief but they are smart enough to do that. But the drivers are going to show whatever they can do.”

IF YOU KNOW THERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN HOLD BACK, YOU CAN POTENTIALLY KEEP IT FOR THE 500, THE SHOOTOUT IS JUST AN EXHIBITION RACE, WON’T DRIVERS SAY TO THEMSELVES HEY I’M GONNA KEEP SOMETHING IN MY POCKET? “I don’t know man because we want to win the race. I don’t know man. Too much ego, I don’t know. You get out there and you want to win, everybody’s watching. It’s a show you know.”

WE TALKED SATURDAY BEFORE QUALIFYING IN TALLADEGA AND YOU MENTIONED YOU WANTED TO GET IT BACK IN YOUR HANDS AND YOU WANTED TO BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR DESTINY THEN YOU GO OUT IN THAT RACE AND YOU AND JIMMIE GET WAY BACK IN THE PACK, DID YOU BECOME EVEN MORE VOCAL WITH NASCAR AFTER THAT HAPPENED AS FAR AS DOING SOMETHING TO CHANGE THAT? “I don’t remember getting vocal with NASCAR. I told Mike (Helton) if they every did go to test to work on things aside from just testing tires that I wanted him to know that I was volunteering to go, wanting to be one of the teams to be a part of it. If they would think about me if they did that, I would appreciate it and they did. They offered us the opportunity to come so we wanted to come down here. I don’t think I was too vocal I think I just reached out and let them know I was available.”

WILL WE SEE TANDEM WAY BACK LIKE THAT AGAIN OR CAN YOU NOT DO THAT ANY MORE? “I don’t know how the race is going to be. I don’t want to make any guesses because I don’t have a clue. I’m sure as long as you can draft guys will lay back. As long as the draft works, guys will lay back and save their cars. Some will probably still do that.”

AS FAR AS THE BIGGEST CHANGES IN NASCAR IN THE LAST DECADE, RULES AND EQUIPMENT CHANGES, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT IN THE LAST DECADE? “Does the COT count? That change right there was phenomenal what it did for the sport.”

AS FAR AS YOU BEING AN OWNER DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK AT ALL-ON RACING OR LIFE? “Being an owner, sure. I think it makes you respect things more. Respect your crew and what they go through, individuals. You become more respectful of all the individuals that put your car together and work on your cars because you get a little better view on it and see it from a different angle.”

WHAT DOES KASEY KAHNE BRING TO HENDRICK? “I think it’s more important what Kenny (Francis) brings to Hendrick. Kasey is a great driver and he’s going to come in here and do great things and have probably the best years of his career but his crew chief Kenny is a really smart guy and I think that’s where the difference is going to be as far as where the rest of the company will see advantages because he will bring a lot to the table. He’s a really smart guy.”

***

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed his recent surgery, Hendrick Motorsports and snow in his home state of Washington.

Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

IN REGARDS TO HIS RECENT KNEE SURGERY: “It is tight and swelled up but it is a lot better today than what it was yesterday. Each day it gets better, it’s crazy how quickly our bodies heal. I have had my right knee done a couple of times so I kind of knew what I was getting into when it happened. I just knew I needed to get it fixed as quickly as I could. It’s probably not the ideal situation to head to Daytona with, but I think it’s better now than any other time of the year. It should be fine it won’t affect my racing at all. ”

YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPECTATIONS ON YOU. WHAT WOULD CONSTITUTE A SUCCESSFUL YEAR FOR YOU THIS YEAR? “For me I would say successful would be consistency and to win races. We have been close for a little while now. I just feel like we have a really good team. We have the best engines we have ever had. There are a lot of parts and pieces that are going to be there for us and we have a lot of great guys to lean on as well. It’s going to be an awesome year, but I think consistency, winning races would be great for us right now.”

DO YOU PUT ANYMORE PRESSURE ON YOURSELF BECAUSE OF THE SITUATION OR AS A NASCAR DRIVER ARE YOU ALREADY UNDER PRESSURE?: “I always come into each year and have my own idea of what I want to do, work hard and get that done. It doesn’t always happen that way, but try to do the best we can and when you go to Hendrick Motorsports you know you have the car and the engines and all the opportunity to succeed. We just have to be sure that we communicate really well throughout the season and stay on top of it. We will have a great year.”

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU HAVE COME ACROSS IN THE SPORT LIKE ANOTHER DRIVER OR A CELEBRITY THAT LEAVES YOU STAR STRUCK?: “Maybe when I first came in, meeting some of the drivers, the first time I ever met Jeff Gordon, it was at a sushi restaurant. I had dinner with him, Jimmie Johnson and Jason Leffler, it was 2002 or maybe event 2001 somewhere around that time and I was just kind of in awe of those guys at that point in time. Now we are teammates a lot changes in 10 years. As far as celebrities goes, meeting anyone that you are a big fan of, I met Aaron Rogers a few weeks ago and I think he is pretty much as good as it gets right now at the quarterback spot. I have met several musical guys that were really cool guys like George Strait, Eric Church, Blake Shelton just different guys you meet over time. It’s pretty awesome to actually get to say hi and shake someone’s hand and go listen to them for an hour or so.”

WHAT WOULD IT DO TO YOUR LIFE IF YOU WIN THE DAYTONA 500? “I think it would change my life some because the race is such a big race. NASCAR does so much with it and there is so much media involved in winning the Daytona 500 that it would definitely be a huge boost in someone’s career even mine at this point. It would be something great to have, a race that you won that is as big as it gets for us. I would love to do it. I don’t know when or if it ever will happen, but I would certainly love to win the Daytona 500.”

DO YOU EVER THINK IN ADVANCE OF WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500?: “I never have of Daytona. I have a lot of other tracks that I think a lot about and things as you go throughout the season that are difficult to drive and stuff, but I never have, but it would be the biggest race that I could win.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT KENNY [FRANCIS, CREW CHIEF] HAS ALREADY HAD AT HENDRICK? “He is just a thinker. He is just spot on with a lot of things, he just thinks about it for a long time and really looks into it and figures it out before he talks about it or before he tries it. He brings a lot to the table, so it is neat to see how much Hendrick Motorsports welcomed Kenny to the organization and how much he thinks of those guys as well. It’s been a great position that we have been in this off season.”

HE WAS SAYING AT MEDIA DAY THAT A LOT OF THE GUYS AT HENDRICK, NOT ONLY THE CREW CHIEFS BUT THE EMPLOYEES HAVE THEIR OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS AND HE HAS A DIFFERENT WAY OF DOING THINGS: “Yeah and that is just something he has come up with over the years. He raced, so how he looks at stuff maybe a little different, but he has been with a lot of different teams, so he has had to figure those things out. Why this works here but it didn’t work there. He has had the opportunity to experience a lot of change and some of those other guys haven’t. I have too and I think sometimes that can help in certain situations. I think he is just a really good fit for Kenny to go over there and work with the guys there.”

IS IT A RELIEF FOR YOU TO GET TO A SITUATION LIKE THAT? GIVING THE TURBULENCE THAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED AT DIFFERENT POINTS IN YOUR CAREER TO GET TO A SITUATION THAT IS THAT STABLE? “Yes, for sure, you just feel really confident. You know what you have. You know what your owner expects and he can expect it because he gives his employees and all the guys that opportunity to build and prepare cars capable of doing what he expects out of it, when you are in that situation as a driver you just can’t not be happy about it. It is really exciting to hear Mr. Hendrick talk about what he expects for the season. We are a part of that now so we need to step up and show him that we want to make him happy.”

YOU WERE PICKED EIGHTH IN THE NASCAR MEDIA POLL. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN THAT? “I feel like that is probably a good start. You never know how long it will take to get used to some of the new changes, some of the new parts and pieces that we haven’t worked with in the past on the cars and things. You just don’t know how long that could take. I think eighth is a pretty solid spot for us. At times last year we were better than that, at times last year we were worse. Hopefully, we are eighth early in the year and we keep getting better as the season goes.”

WITH ALL THE NEW FOR YOU DOES THE SHOOTOUT TAKE ON ANY EXTRA SIGNIFICANCE AND WHAT ARE YOU MOST INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT IN THE SHOOTOUT?: “I’m really interested in seeing how the engines run and how hot they run and how much we can push and how much we have to get in line. Usually it is a little bit cooler during the Shootout than what it will be during the Daytona 500, we will have to think about that also, but just how the cars are going to handle with the smaller spoilers and different aero package. Everything is a little bit different this year. I think it is going to be a lot of fun. It is a little bit bigger deal since I’m with a new team, but we had a really good test down here so I think we will be off to a good start right away we had a fast car at the test. We just have to try to learn it and figure it out; ultimately we want to win Saturday night.”

HOW IS THE CHEMISTRY WITH THE TEAM? “Good. We brought four of our guys that have worked together for about six years now and then we have some of the five guys that were there. We were out at the sprint car race last night and half of our team is out there. We had some of the guys who hadn’t been on the team before they are out there watching our sprint cars. I think the chemistry is good everybody is racers and they all want to win races and that is exactly what I want to do.”

HOW ARE THE KNEES AT THIS POINT?: “The left one is sore, the right one is really good. Last year at this time the right one was sore and the left one was really good.”

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE YOU NEEDED THE SURGERY THIS TIME?: “Last Thursday night. I went in Thursday night. I had torn it before and it wasn’t a big deal, but I tore it worse last week, so I went in because it swelled up really bad. I just knew I needed it.”

HOW DID YOU TEAR IT? “The first time I tore it at the same time I tore my right knee. But then the other day my legs were exhausted I was doing intervals on three different machines in the gym and I was running and kind of twisted my knee and tore it further. After I did that basically I tore it more and it fell in between my joint a little bit and it starts getting irritated.”

ALL TOTAL HOW MANY SURGERIES HAVE YOU HAD? “I have had two on each now. In 15 months I’ve had four surgeries. Before that I had never had any broken anything, it has just been a crazy 14 months as far as that goes.”

IT DOESN’T AFFECT YOU IN THE CAR THAT MUCH? “No, I don’t think it will. I sat in it yesterday and I felt pretty good about it. I think as fast as our bodies heal, by Saturday night it will probably feel pretty good.”

ARE YOU CONCERNED IT WILL BE AN ONGOING THING THAT YOU WILL HAVE ISSUES WITH YOUR KNEES? “No, because what we did was first time I did it we tried to fix it. Then I re-tore that so what we did was cut 20-25 percent of the inner meniscus out. You don’t need it. I don’t feel like I’m going to have any more issues both knees are now exactly the same. They were hurt the same way and now they are both trimmed out, so I just have less meniscus there. In order to hurt it again it would have to tear the other side, I don’t know it must be stronger over there.

YOU SOUND LIKE A BASKETBALL OF FOOTBALL PLAYER WITH THESE INJURIES: “Well I like working out, I like playing basketball, I like being athletic and running around and doing stuff. It just caught up to me a little bit I guess.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY RELATIVES THAT WERE HOME DURING SNOWMAGEDDON IN SEATTLE? “ No I wasn’t there but my Dad, his power was out for four or five days. My Dad said he had 10-11 inches. I haven’t seen snow in a couple of years. I don’t even know what it looks like anymore. I love snow. I haven’t seen it in forever.”

WHAT TO YOU IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HENDRICK AND EVERYONE ELSE? “I think it’s the people and it’s the owner. I think everywhere I’ve been, I mean Red Bull they spent a ton of money, but that didn’t make them the best team or even close to it. I think it is the management, the people, the owner and how badly you want to work for certain people. You want to work for them because they are good to you and they make you feel like you are part of it and that is the biggest thing over there everybody loves what they are doing and they want to make Mr. Hendrick happy. The atmosphere is good and you feel good about what you are doing. I think a lot of that has to do with stability also, having a stable place that has great sponsorship and has a great owner.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE ANOTHER PLACE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WHERE THE ATMOSPHERE WASN’T SO GOOD THAT AFFECTED YOU?: “I never thought it did, but you get in situations where I think it does a little bit. I never really thought it did then you do something good and you feel like man maybe I was down a little bit or maybe I wasn’t at my highest level. But when people are uncertain about their future, it is an attitude adjuster. You have to be in a good strong steady environment for people to really perform and I think that is what Hendrick Motorsports gives you.”

DO YOU THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE A TWO CAR RACE? I KNOW TESTING HAS BEEN IN TANDEM LIKE IT WAS LAST YEAR: “I don’t see how it could be like that. You have to switch way too often, but I think until Saturday night we really won’t know. Then if it is Saturday night we will have new rules Monday. Then we will have to figure it out again.”

HOW MUCH IS THE WEATHER GOING TO PLAY INTO THAT? “Well it’s just cooler, that will help the two-car tandem for sure, but I think NASCAR realizes that and they know there is going to be some of it. You are going to have to do some of it once in a while but I don’t think there is going to be near as much as what there has been.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT AS YOU MAKE THE CHANGE TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS YOU HAVE YOUR CREW CHIEF KENNY FRANCIS AS THE ONE CONSTANT?: “I think the crew chief spot is really important. We talk, we communicate and that is how the car gets set up is kind of through that communication. The engineer is really important; I’ve had the same engineer with Kenny. We have a few other guys our car chief, we have four guys total that have been together for about six years now and all that stuff really does help.”

IN REGARD TO STARTING A NEW TEAM FROM SCRATCH: “I just feel like it is kind of difficult to catch up to some of that if you just build a new team, with a new crew chief, a new engineer, all that stuff. I just don’t see right at the start how you can be quite as good as those guys who have worked together. If you hit on some things right away then that is awesome, but I think it takes time. The best thing about change sometimes is that everybody is kind of relieved. You have been under some situations where you feel like you are over it. So you get change and then it helps.”

CHANGE FOR THE SAKE OF STABILITY IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR NOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH CHANGE? “Not really searching anymore, but I have been, I found it. I have been searching for that.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BRIAN VICKERS NOT HAVING A RIDE IN 2012? “I think Brian at some point will get something. He is a good driver. He will get something if he really wants to if he wants to be in the sport. I think he can. I think he’s a really talented driver, understands the cars and things really well.”

TO HAVE BEEN WITH ALMOST EVERY MAKE IN THE SERIES DOES IT GIVE YOU ANY INSIGHT? “ It definitely gives you a little insight on how everybody’s engines run and what they feel like and where there RPM range might be. Then you get the fuel injection and it changes everything. I don’t know. I don’t think I’m going to be any better because of it but I think it’s kind of neat to drive all the manufactures.”

IT SEEMS LIKE IN NASCAR DRIVERS WITH SLIGHT INJURIES DO BETTER-HAMLIN DID WELL, EDWARDS DID WELL, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE WITH YOU INJURY? “ I don’t know I hope we run really well. I don’t think it’s going to affect me a whole lot. My knees heel really quick, last year when I hurt my knee we ran third at Richmond. It wasn’t that big of a deal. My left knee I don’t think is going to be as big a deal as my right knee. I don’t know you still just try to focus and do everything right.”