DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed his recent success at Charlotte, his season to date and other topics.
IS THE CAR YOU LIKE AT KANSAS THIS WEEKEND?: “I’m sure they could have turned it around if they wanted to. Again, we’re building other new cars that we feel have all the opportunity in the world to be quick and be fast and be good cars. Turning them around in a week’s time is too difficult at this day and age or more difficult than its worth due to all the components that need to be replaced and what not.”
DOES ANYTHING TRANSLATE FROM THE 600 LAST WEEK TO THIS WEEK’S RACE AT KANSAS?: “I really don’t know. The setups are all real similar that you run at all the mile-and-a-halves. We might tweak on them a little but here and there, but the direction and the ideas and the theories are all kind of the same. It’s been working pretty good for us. We’re still working real hard to find out where some speed is for qualifying and we made some -- went a totally new direction in qualifying for Dover and Charlotte. Although we didn’t get the qualify Dover and we didn’t really qualify well at Charlotte, the difference in how the car drove and how comfortable I was with the car and being able to jump out there and run fast for one lap -- I think we made some real good gains there. I think we’re going to start seeing some improvement in that department and make the races easier for us. We’ll just have to see what this place is like. It looks like there’s some more tar strips, seams and stuff and cracks that have been sealed up than what I recall last time we were here. Seems like all the track owners love putting that tar in them cracks man. It’s like all they have to do for like a year before we come back. We’ll see how that’s going to make the cars drive and hopefully we can get around here pretty good.”
ARE WE READING YOU RIGHT THAT LAST WEEK WAS A REALLY BIG DEAL FOR WHERE YOUR TEAM IS AT RIGHT NOW?: “I think so. I think that we came close to winning that race and we’ve done it a couple times this year and that makes me feel more confident in us having that opportunity again more often throughout the season. I feel like that if we just keep doing that then the luck is going to fall our way and we’ll get to victory lane one way or another.”
DID YOU SEE ANY OF THE YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF YOUR FANS CRYING BECAUSE YOU DID NOT WIN THE RACE LAST WEEK AND WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT?: “I didn’t know nothing about it and the first I heard about it was right here. That’s the way I take a Redskins loss, I take a Redskins season the same way. I’m as bitter as I was at the end of the season -- I’m still as bitter about it. When you’re passionate and you care -- it’s a cliché, but when that’s all that matters you’re ticked until things get right or you’re upset until things get right no matter what. I can definitely relate. That again, that extends itself or that tells you a lot about the way the world is today and what kind of world we’re living in. Everything is going to go straight to the internet. That’s a way for people to express themselves, get their feelings across, show what they’re thinking, what they want -- for people, I guess for those people it was a way to release those emotions and get it out. Had to tell somebody. Sometimes you get ticked off or get tore up about something and you have nobody to talk to -- I guess that’s a good outlet for them. Going to see just more and more of it as we keep on going down the road.”
DOES THE CAR YOU LIKE HAVE A PERSONALITY AND DO CARS HAVE A PERSONALITY? ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT A FELLOW COMPETITOR WILL BE IN A CAR MAKING ITS 15TH START?: “That doesn’t really surprise me. The car that I like, I only like it because we’ve run well in int. I remember my first race we run with it was Vegas and we weren’t good in practice. The car -- it isn’t the kind of car to where no matter what you do it runs good. We can screw it up. We’ve been able to adjust it and it likes adjustments and it seems to respond to adjustments. We should run -- we can run cars like that seven or eight times a year so I’m not surprised that (Ryan) Newman’s car is going to make that many starts. Sounds pretty normal I guess to me.”
I want to act right too.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXCITEMENT TO SHOW UP AND DRIVE THIS YEAR COMPARED TO THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?: “It’s definitely better. I look forward to coming here. Preparing for the weekend -- I look forward to it a little bit more than I did in the past for sure. When you run good, it’s much easier to want to show up. When you get -- I had two and three-quarters or two and a half years there where nothing was changing, nothing was getting better and you just, you get in a rut and you don’t know what to do to make it better. Obviously, what you’re doing is not helping so you’re kind of at a loss when you get disappointed. You keep going the next week and the next week and the next week -- you have this hope in the back of your mind that it’s going to turn around and this is going to be the weekend where you have something to smile about. 75 percent of your brain knows that’s probably not what’s going to happen. It’s kind of tough back then. Definitely this year, I’ve run some really good cars and I’ve had some real good times racing and being in those cars. I just enjoy competing where I feel like I should be able to compete. I have an opinion, personally about what kind of talent I’ve got and where I should be running in the races. When I’m close to that or doing that or matching that then I get happy and I feel content and satisfied and obviously this year has been a better year for me. It could be even better and hopefully we’ll get to that next level, but for the most part definitely having fun. Definitely having more fun. When the race weekend sneaks up on you week after week after week, you’re not so upset about it. Sitting at home is pretty fun, but now when Thursday and Friday rides around, creeps up on you out of nowhere, you’re not disappointed about it, you’re like, ‘Alright man, let’s go to the next one and let’s see what we can do. Let’s see if we can go out there and make some more good things happen.”
DID YOU SEE THE COLUMN TALKING ABOUT YOUR CLASS FOLLOWING THE CHARLOTTE RACE AND WHERE IS THAT FROM?: “I did see the column and I don’t really know really why that’s the case. I don’t want to disappoint anybody. My father raced in this sport for a long time and he raced in front and worked and talked and worked with a lot of people that I work with today. A lot of people that are in this room and a lot of people in that garage. Being his son, I don’t want to disappoint anybody. I don’t want to say anything that’s going to make anyone ashamed of me or I just want to run good and I want to run well, but I want to act right too. In the end, I want people to say that I was a good person and I was honest -- when I don’t race anymore or whatever. That I was a good guy to be around and a good sport about things. Mainly, I just don’t want to humiliate what my dad did for the sport and what he did for himself, what he did for our family name -- don’t want to do anything that’s going to tarnish any of that. That was probably all it’s about.”
-source: team chevy