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Hauler Chat With Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS California Speedway February 24, 2006 HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: WERE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT THE TEMPERMENT OF THE RACE LAST WEEK? "I ...

Hauler Chat With Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS
California Speedway
February 24, 2006

HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:

WERE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT THE TEMPERMENT OF THE RACE LAST WEEK? "I didn't think it was any different than any other time. Everybody always has a temper flare up during the race. Not everybody's race goes the way they want it, so I wasn't too surprised."

HOW DO THINGS CHANGE ACROSS COUNTRY FROM DAYTONA TO CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY? "It's a good little race track. We're just trying to get our car to handle good and to get a good qualifying run in. But I like coming out here."

MATT KENSETH WAS PRETTY VOCAL ABOUT TONY STEWART LAST WEEK AT DAYTONA. DID THAT SURPRISE YOU? "Matt handles his business. When he's mad, he usually has a pretty good reason. But it's just racing. I was right behind him when it happened. It was pretty wild. I thought they were both going to get in the grass there."

HOW BLATANT WAS THAT? "I wouldn't really call it blatant. I don't really know if Tony meant to do it our not. I don't think Tony meant to turn him in to the infield. They'd been beating on each other. I'm sure Tony would do it differently if he had the opportunity."

DO YOU THINK THE NO. 48 TEAM'S PENALTY SHOULD HAVE INCLUDED A POINTS DEDUCTION? "They've got a good argument. They got caught cheating after qualifying, not during the race. They get caught a lot. But heck, I don't know. It's not really up to me. It's hard to take points away from somebody when it doesn't happen in the race."

WELL, THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN TALLADGEA "And did I like it?"

HOW WAS THE CAR IN PRACTICE TODAY? "It was all right. We need to be better, but we definitely made some improvements from how it was here over the past couple of years. I'm pretty happy with the way the car handles and drives, but we made all qualifying runs. We didn't do any race stuff today.

"So it'll be interesting to see how we come out of the box tomorrow after we get this qualifying in. I was pretty happy with how things went today."

WHY HAVE THE CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS TRACKS ALWAYS BEEN A THORN IN THE NO. 8 TEAM'S SIDE? "We ran good and won a Busch race here. I ran third in a Cup race here. I don't know. We totally missed it, set-up wise, at a lot of tracks like this. This is not really news to everybody. But we've definitely got it turned around in the right direction. Just how much we've gained, I'm not quite sure."

IS KYLE BUSCH AS OUT OF CONTROL AS TONY STEWART SAID HE IS? "Yeah. For a rookie, he's pretty wild. But most rookies are. I can't say I did any better when I was in his position, but he could turn it down a notch. You know, whether he does or not, that's his deal. But I like giving him a hard time about it. But we went on and on about it on the XM radio show a little bit, but that's just poking fun. You make mistakes and he hasn't made any real big ones. But he just needs to realize that he's right on that brink of really ticking off (replaced expletive) somebody he doesn't want to tick off. I think he'll figure it out. A lot of rookies come in here pretty wild. The younger they come in, the more wild they are because they don't have any seasoning in any other series. So running in the Busch Series will help out a lot. I don't see that's going to cause him any big problems down the road. I think he just needs to settle down a little bit."

DO YOU PLAY NASCAR VIDEO GAMES? "Absolutely. I race in a lot of leagues online with my buddies a lot. I do it for fun. We race on the computer a lot."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CAR OF TOMORROW? "I particularly don't ever want to see it. I don't ever want to race it. But it's not up to me. But I think it's a big mistake. Given the state of the sport and how expensive it is, I think the timing is not right. Obviously it's a great idea. There's nothing wrong with the car in particular. We've made a lot of gains with these cars we've got now with safety. Obviously they've got some great ideas on the car of tomorrow, but the timing of the whole deal is going to be hard on a lot of these teams."

DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING HERE LIKE WE DID IN DAYTONA? "You just might. I don't know. It's hard to tell."

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN YOUR OVERALL PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR? "I want to run in the top five and lead some laps. We were leading a lot of laps in '04 and in other years and that's what we need to be doing. We need to go to the race track and run up front. A lot has changed in two years since '04. Roush has really found something to make all their cars real fast. Other teams have made a lot of gains. We've sort of been struggling to make them type of gains as a company. But I think this year we can do a lot and get a lot done and get a lot accomplished. I want to lead laps and stay up front. It's not necessarily about finishes because that's really up to fate, I suppose, on everything going right. But to be able to get up front and run up front is what I want."

ARE THESE NEXT UPCOMING RACES IMPORTANT TO YOU? "They're all big. They're all pretty important. You know how we run here and in Vegas. Anything will be a surprise. If we run better and can run in the top 15, the top 10, we'll be real happy with that."

YOU MUST FEEL GOOD ABOUT BEING IN THE TOP 10 AFTER DAYTONA, DON'T YOU? "With our track record here and in Vegas, man, we've got to get those good runs at places where we normally do run good like Daytona and Atlanta and Bristol and those tracks in the first little bit of the series here."

IF YOU DO BETTER HERE AND IN VEGAS, WILL YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? "Yeah, I feel like we're in better position as far as our cars and our motors and stuff. We should run better with what I see today, but how much better, I don't really now. I have a hard time judging with what little time we've had here. We didn't run as good as we wanted to in the test at Vegas, so I'm a little concerned there. But still, it's an improvement but it's not enough. We need more improvement."

REGARDING THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME, WHERE DO YOU WANT IT TO GO AND WHERE DO YOU THINK IT WILL GO? "Charlotte...because I'm sure NASCAR is going to ask the drivers to make a few appearances over there and it would be right in my backyard and I wouldn't have to go too far."

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr.