Earnhardt Jr. - Pocono Friday Media Visit

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Pocono Raceway

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing in Pocono this weekend, his confidence level, the shifting changes and more.

DO YOU THINK YOU WILL RUN WELL HERE THIS WEEKEND? “I hope so. We’ll see. We’ve got a tricky little race track here and some new shifting rules. So we’ll be learning all day long hoping we’ll be able to get up to speed and be competitive.”

HOW ABOUT THIS TRACK AND HOW YOU’VE RUN HERE IN THE PAST, DO YOU THINK THIS IS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN END THE STREAK? “I don’t know. We’ve not been real successful here in the last several years. We’ve had a really good start when we first started coming here. We’ve had a lot of good runs but the last couple of years haven’t been that awesome. We’re taking it one week at a time and see how it goes.”

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

WHERE IS THE CONFIDENCE LEVEL RIGHT NOW? “It’s good. I’m still good. Just trying to be productive, show up on time, be ready to work, try to work hard. See how that works out for me. It’s been going so good so far. Wanna keep trying to get better too.”

HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAT HAS LED TO THESE GOOD RESULTS? “Basically we changed everything. I’m in a new shop, new team, new crew chief. Everything has been changed. I don’t know what else different I can do. That’s a lot. We’ve made a lot of changes.”

AFTER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS DO YOU TAKE THAT AS FRUSTRATION KIND OF FUELED THE FIRE FOR POCONO? “It’s great, it’s not frustrating. I’m running good.”

SO CLOSE TO FIRST LACE THOUGH? “Yeah, that’s great. That’s where you want to be. Close. If not winning, that’s better than running damn 25th and 30th every week I’ll tell you that.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SHIFTING HERE AND IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE SHIFTING? “I don’t know. I’m going to try to find out. I haven’t shift here in a while. I think it’s unnecessary but they think the brakes are going to be better but it ain’t going to be no better.”

DO YOU THINK ANYBODY WILL HAVE A REMEMBERING ISSUE WITH IT? “Shifting is no big deal. Just hopefully you’ve got the gears all right and everything feels pretty comfortable. It should be fine.”

AS FAR AS THE RACING, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE ARE GOING TO SEE AS AN IMPACT OF THE SHIFTING? “It will be the same as it was last year. Take last year’s race and replay it and just imagine all the drivers are shifting.”

THERE IS RAIN IN THE FORECAST, HOW MUCH DOES THAT IMPACT HOW YOU APPROACH PRACTICE? “What are the rules if it rains out tomorrow?”

FASTEST IN FINAL PRACTICE I THINK. “If none of us know, I don’t know if we can answer that question. Steve will do all that, I just get in there and he’ll say man we’ve got to put a lap down lets go and I’ll go try to do it. If we do we do, if we don’t, we don’t. Mainly today we’re just going to focus on how the car gets through the corners, whether we’re comfortable, how we’re shifting. We’ve got a little bit of time today and just try to really get those things down and get that stuff comfortable so we can run a whole race on Sunday.”

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT MICHIGAN? “I don’t know. I feel like we’ve run pretty good there the last several times we’ve raced there. I really like the race track. It’s a real fun place to race. You’ve got to have a lot of motor and you can’t use a lot of gasoline. When we put a lot of gas in these cars to go fast you end up running short on the fuel mileage. A lot of times that is a fuel-mileage race. You do need a lot of motor though and we’re pretty good in that department.”

SPEAKING OF MOTOR, IF YOU COULD PICK BETWEEN POWER AND AERODYNAMICS WHICH ONE WOULD YOU PICK? “Aerodynamics probably. Matt Kenseth won a championship without any motor. Jack Roush will tell you they ain’t got any motor, they’ve got a pretty good one these days but back then they haven’t too much. Sometimes when you actually get down on power you go through the corner faster. Aerodynamics is always important.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE QUALIFYING CHANGES THIS WEEKEND? “I really don’t know what the changes are. I haven’t really paid much attention to it. I think first practice determines how we will qualify. I thought if it rained out we would start by points but I guess it could be the last practice speed. I don’t know. It will take me a couple of weeks to get this all sorted out. It sounds kind of confusing.”

YOU SEEMED REALLY HAPPY AFTER LAST WEEKS RACE. “Yeah, I feel like it’s a good relationship and going pretty good. Just trying to protect it and keep it going that way. Hopefully everybody on the team is enjoying what we’re doing. We’re not satisfied, we want to win races and I know that those guys are itching to win and get in victory lane and if we work hard we’ll get rewarded with that. I hope everybody on the team is enjoying what’s going on this year. I certainly am. I’m certainly having a good time.”

We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

HOW MUCH HAS BORIS SAID HELPED ELEVATE ROAD RACING IN THIS ENTIRE SERIES WITH THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE HE HAS WORKED WITH? “Well he’s definitely very helpful. He’s helped me with setup ideas, knowledge about road course set up, how to set a car up for road courses and obviously helped me with driving, helped a lot of drivers with driving. Him and Ron Fellows both, any time any of those guys come in and are fast they elevate the standard of competition and elevate the level of speed and what you need to change to be good always gets tougher. They definitely made us all faster whether it be by tutoring us or by raising the stakes by showing up.”

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUR NATIONWIDE CARS WITH DANICA AND SOMEONE ELSE NEXT YEAR? “We haven’t really talked about it. We’re waiting on Danica to make her decision and we can start to plan what we want to do. It would be a lot of fun to try to go full time. We definitely would like to be part of that opportunity. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

WHAT IMPACT DOES FUEL STRATEGY HAVE ON THIS PARTICULAR TRACK? SOMETIMES CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE CAUTIONS PLAY A ROLE AS WELL? “Yeah, that’s what really causes it from the get go. If the caution comes out, if you’re car is going to go sixty laps on fuel and the caution comes out with 65 laps to go then you’re in a little bit of a pickle. That’s just the way it happens sometimes.”

WITH ALL THE CHANGES COMING INTO THIS RACE, THE SHIFTING AND QUALIFYING, EVERY WEEK IT’S A WIDE OPEN RACE FOR EVERYBODY, DOES THAT MAKE IT ANY DIFFERENT COMING INTO THE WEEKEND? “Not really. I think it will be pretty similar to how it was last year. Racing here has always kind of been the same.”

ARE YOU CONFIDENT AT THIS RACE TRACK? “I like this place. It’s real tough to get around. It’s a pretty tough race track with all three corners being really different. The car wants to drive different through all three corners. Hopefully you kind of got a good balance across the board. But I feel good. Feel like we just are going to try to come here and do a good job, put together a good weekend just like we’ve been doing every week.”

DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A RULE IN PLACE FOR A DRIVER, IF YOU DO DAMAGE TO ANOTHER CAR AFTER THE CHECKERED FLAG YOU SHOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR THE DAMAGES? “I don’t know if that would have made a difference. I don’t know. The way it was handled and I was reading some of Brian’s comments about Darlington and he was saying and I may be wrong but as far as I remember he was saying where he had a problem was the extracurricular stuff that went on outside of the flag. Everything in between the green flag and the checkered flag was fine but what happened after the checkered flag they felt was a problem. And then in Kansas it wasn’t a problem. So that was the only thing that stuck out to me, when is it okay to hit a guy after the race and when is it not okay. What Kyle did in Kansas we do all the time. I didn’t really think that was too big of a deal. Obviously it upset Richard but we run into each other all the time after a race but really a lot of it never gets caught on television or seen by anybody. Sometimes it’s because you’re happy for somebody and sometimes it’s because you’re mad at somebody. We end up sorting those things out ourselves someway and somehow. I guess there is a certain level of contact that doesn’t need to happen after the race. I can totally understand. I’m not calling Brian out or anything I’m just saying I wish I knew everything and I don’t.”

“I’d get mad. Heck yeah.

Dale Earnhardt Jr

KYLE SAID HE DIDN’T REALIZE HE CAUSED THAT MUCH DAMAGE, YOU SAID YOU GUYS DO IT ALL THE TIME, AT WHAT LEVEL DO YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME? “If you’re mad at somebody you’re not thinking about nothing but what you’re mad about. You’re not worried about nothing but what pissed you off. Sometimes you make mistakes, sometimes you handle it just right and sometimes you don’t do nothing. It just depends, it’s all circumstantial. I don’t have much concern in it and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It was a big deal. What Richard did obviously drew tons of attention but what Kyle did wasn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. When you just see it on TV you go oh man that happens all the time. I’ve seen that a million times before.”

IF SOMEONE HAD DONE LIKE $10,000 DOLLARS DAMAGE TO YOUR NATIONWIDE CAR? “I’d get mad. Heck yeah. When Denny and Brad were being idiots at Charlotte that one race and banging into each other’s fenders and stuff it really upset me. I was in another car and I went up there and ran into Denny.”

AFTER THE RACE OR DURING? “During. We were all like hey don’t hit that car. It was just really stupid all of us and then there was that big fight afterwards between the two teams. Not my team but the other two teams. It was just silly. That happens all the time and yeah you get mad. That damn Beuscher kid wrecked Danica in California for no freaking reason at all so he’s on the list. He’s got his coming one day.”

-source: team chevy

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, hendrick, sprint cup