Earnhardt Jr. talks with media about Danica Patrick

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Team Chevy Racing press release

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed the Phoenix race, Danica Patrick’s performances and other topics.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

ARE YOU READY TO GET TO A MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK?: “I’m just ready to work -- ready to race. Seems like it’s been a month.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR MILE-AND-A-HALF QUALIFYING HAS IMPROVED SINCE THE FALL?: “I’m not real sure, but we come in here pretty confident. This is where we sort of put our best foot forward last year and we feel pretty confident. Just ready to get going. We struggled all weekend last year and for whatever reason, hit on something for the race. We won’t panic if things aren’t really going our way today or going on into tomorrow morning. We would like to see some good results and get it in qualifying because we need to improve that package from last year.”

DO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT AFTER PHOENIX IN SALVAGING A GOOD DAY?: “I think we should run better than that. Even on our bad days we should be able to be a little more competitive than we were and we did get fortunate to finish where we did because we really weren’t that strong all day long. I finished ahead of some cars that had beat us all day long.”

DO YOU THINK THERE ARE MORE WRECKS AT LAS VEGAS BECAUSE OF THE RECONFIGURATION OF THE TRACK?: “I really don’t know. I wouldn’t even have thought that was the case. We’re just going faster.”

DID YOU GET THE NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET THAT BLEW UP WITH THE JET DRYER AT DAYTONA?: “Yeah, the Sunshine man, he’s a buddy of mine and he gave it to me. I got about 50 or 60 cars out there and I didn’t buy any of them. He calls me and I get my property manager, Sonny, to go over there and load it up and bring it over. We get a forklift or a tractor with a forklift or frontend loader and just carry it into the woods and just set it out there somewhere.”

WHERE DOES THAT CAR RANK AMONG THE FAMOUS CARS YOU HAVE?: “That one’s good. That one ranks right up there. I’ve got the car (Dennis) Setzer flipped when he was driving for Keselowski at Talladega so that was pretty cool, but it ranks right up there. It’s one of the top two or three.”

DOES IT HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE?: “No. I don’t even know where they put it. I’ll have to go find it.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RACING MEMORY AT BRISTOL?: “Bristol -- winning. We swept the Nationwide race and the Cup race there in 2004 and definitely my best memory. Daddy won a lot of races there and I enjoyed watching races there as a kid and enjoy racing there. Looking forward to going.”

WHAT IS THE TRICK TO GETTING AROUND BRISTOL?: “They changed the configuration and the way the car goes around the corners is a little bit different. Getting the car to turn in the middle and get out of the corner is a little bit different and a little more challenging.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHANCES OF THE 48 CAR APPEAL GETTING OVERTURNED IS?: “I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. They appealed it because they obviously feel like the fine or the result should have been different. Hopefully they can make some changes to it. Really haven’t thought much about it.”

DO YOU EXPECT MORE OUT OF DANICA PATRICK THIS WEEKEND AFTER SHE RAN WELL HERE A YEAR AGO?: “I’m sure she wants to improve and wants to feel like she can come in here and win. She knows how good she ran here last year and she wants to come in here and try to win the race. Feel like she’s getting to the point to where she can feel confident at certain race tracks where she’s performed well at. I’m sure she’ll be disappointed with anything less than a top-five finish this weekend.”

WERE YOU FRUSTRATED WITH HER FINISH LAST WEEKEND?: “I didn’t run much better. She has to understand that sometimes there are just going to be off weekends and the car’s not going to do well. Phoenix is a bit of an anomaly because the tire that we use there or Indianapolis is not a short track tire really or not a tire that I would use there. It made for a very difficult car to drive and it made for a very narrow window as far as how close you could hit the setup.”

IS THERE ANY CHANCE YOU CAN GET THE JET DRYER FROM DAYTONA?: “I’d like to have it, but I don’t know where it is. Probably somewhere in Daytona or NASCAR might be studying it somewhere, who knows. We don’t have anything -- I think we’ll just stick to race cars out there.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS THAT ALLOWS YOU TO PERFORM AT SUCH A HIGH LEVEL EVERY YEAR?: “Their level of professionalism. The amount of talent we have in the shop and years of experience. Just tons of experience.”

HOW DIFFICULT WILL BRISTOL BE FOR DANICA PATRICK?: “I thought she did pretty good the first time she went. She ran up to speed and that’s a very difficult track to adjust to and a very difficult track to learn. I thought she did a good job. The Nationwide cars get around there pretty good. They actually drive pretty good there and when I drove there last year, it was pretty easy to drive. I don’t think it’s as tough a challenge as it might look from the outside.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, danica, earnhardt, hendrick, las vegas, patrick