Pepsi 400 at Daytona
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes third
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- #8 Budweiser Chevrolet
"Yeah, we had a pretty good car. The race track was real, real tight with all the rain. And, we were working on the car to improve and it got a lot better as we went. The track got even better once we got some rubber on it. You know, at the start of the race the top was the place to be because the bottom was real tight and you'd have to lift for everyone on the outside row, so you couldn't get anything going. And as everybody adjusted their cars and the track improved, the bottom was the place to be. You were almost nervous to get up top and get left up there by yourself. We fought real hard all night and got better track position as the night went on. And, got a lot of help from all our friends. Some unexpected help from one of my most fierce competitors right there at the end. I was telling everybody before that restart, that I don't think Rusty's ever bump drafted me in my career. He's always trying to pass me because we were such competitors, corporately. He decided to tell me, from spotter to spotter, that he would help me. So, that was awesome at the end. We both gained spots there, working togther. Ended up with a good finish. To be able to get a third-place finish."
ON YOUR CAR, DURING THAT EARLIER INCIDENT, WAS THEIR DAMAGE BETWEEN YOU AND THE #17
"I ran into the #17 with the right front and I said if you want to know about the damage I got, look at his door. And if he's got a lot, I've probably got a lot. I didn't get to see it, nor did I get a look at it after the race. They apparently, if anything is wrong, fixed it. I heard them hammering on it a little bit. But, they towed it out. They strung the toe on it on one of the stops and it was fine. Didn't do anything suspension wise or knock the toe in or anything. It was a hard hit. Everybody started wrecking and I went low. The guys on the inside stayed straight and Matt and I were both going low. It was Jamie, so Jamie was already under the commitment line going on pit road and Matt and me were both coming toward down to him and I was just meeting a sandwich. I had to hit one of them, so I hit Matt."
COMMENT ON STARTING SO LATE AND ENDING SO LATE
"What time is it? It don't make no difference."
DOES THIS OFFER SOME PROMISE FOR A BETTER SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON
"That was a good run by the team. I don't need it. I mean, I'm ready to go. My team's working hard. It's not like they needed a kick in the butt. They were going hard all year, even during some of the harder times. So, hopefully, if anything, they say you carry momentum. I don't know if that's a possibility or not. But, we'll see what we can rack here in the next couple of weeks and try to close the gap on 10th place. This obviously helps and more runs like this would help. But, I understand this is Daytona and there aren't any more Daytonas and Talladegas before the Chase. We have to work really hard to gain ground on these other tracks we haven't had success yet this year."
COMMENT ON TONY'S WIN TONIGHT?
"I had a feeling the only way I was going to beat him was to beat him to the front, and if I got a push to try to go around like instead of pushing him like we normally do-we always had worked together-I think the only way to beat him was to get out in front of him before he got to the front. By the time that thought even entered my mind, he was already leading. His car was real strong all night. And it was fun, kind of, to see him run like that. I've had a couple of cars here like that. He's always been lending some drafting help in some of the races I've won here. And, so I'm glad that he got to experience what it's like to have a car as dominating as he did tonight. Because it's a lot of fun when you have those kind of cars and I know Tony loves to drive race cars, no matter what kind. It's good to see him have such a dominant car."
RE: RUNNING WITH JEFF GORDON TONIGHT. BOTH YOU GUYS SEEMED LIKE YOU NEEDED A BUMP - DID BOTH YOU GUYS GET THAT?
"Jeff's not out of it by any means. They are a strong race team. Us, on the other hand, we're on the bottom of the rope, just hanging on. And, we don't have much further to slide before it's over with. We had to dig pretty deep here to see if we can't make some gains in the next couple of races. You never know. There's a couple years-before the Chase was around-there were a couple years I was racing in the Cup series where you didn't think that anybody wanted to win the thing, because it seemed that whoever got the lead would have a couple of weeks of trouble. And it kept, you know, racing pretty tight. You never know what's going to happen with the guys in the top 10 and what kind of season they might have and it might be enough bad luck and unfortunate circumstances for enough people and run good enough where we might get in it. We'll just have to see. We'll just have to keep trying until numerically we're not in it anymore."
IN FEBRUARY YOU SAID YOU SQUEEZED THE MOST OUT OF A THIRD-PLACE CAR THAT MIGHT HAVE NOT BEEN A THIRD-PLACE CAR
"When did I say that? I didn't mean that. If you drive it up there, it's good enough to get there, I guess. I didn't really fall into a third place finish in February or tonight. And I don't want to insinuate at all that my guys aren't giving me cars good enough to run up front. So, you know, they'll be the first to admit it when it's not. But I think tonight they deserve enough credit for a third-place finish as I do, so you know, because of that. There's nothing special that drivers do out there, some of us are just smarter than others. You know, we can all hold it to the mat and turn left. But some of us can make moves and do things and make passed better than others. I'm fortunately one of them. I'm pretty happy with how we finished. I think my car was a third place car. I mean, it was a second place car. If I was in front of Jamie I don't know if he could have passed me. But, you never know."