DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO - Finished 2nd
ON THE RACE:
"It was pretty uneventful to be honest with you. We just pitted when we needed to and ran up high, sort of out of the way, and stayed clean all night. The top was really good for me and we were a little bit faster than everybody for the most part of the race, we just didn't have track position."
DID YOU NOTICE THE TRACK TEMPERATURE? WAS IT A GRADUAL CHANGE?
"I don't know. I don't think we can really tell you when the track is changing as far as temperature-wise. I would be able to tell you when it's tightening up a little bit and how the track tightens up as the sun goes down. When Turns 3 and 4 goes into the shade, it obviously has a lot more grip than it did before and a huge difference in grip from (Turns) 1 and 2. Turns 1 and 2 is a parking lot to begin with (laughter) and when you go there 190 mph, everybody is sideways and spinning out. That's just a characteristic of the race track. Even at night it was pretty slick on the bottom. Neither the rear nor the front was giving away. But as the track cools off, the track gets faster. The track maintains most of it's characteristics, but it does gain a little grip."
ON GOING TO RICHMOND:
"Yeah, I'm pretty excited going to Richmond. We wish we would have had a win or two in addition to what we got at Richmond earlier this year, but we haven't had that kind of luck. It's an opportunity to get a win and an opportunity to run good. At worst, hopefully we'll come out of there with a top 15 or a top 10. And that's sort of the mindset anyway, do you know what I mean? But anything can happen to you if you get involved in crashes or there would be something stupid. So we'll try to be smart. I think it's great for the sport that the points are as they are right now. It's very exciting to be a part of it. I think it is doing exactly what it was intended to do, which was to create a lot of excitement and drama right in a particularly boring part of the season. So it's made it pretty exciting."
THIS IS ONE OF YOUR STRONGEST RUNS AT THIS TRACK. YOU SEEMED TO REALLY PICK IT UP IN THE LAST 30 LAPS. DID YOUR CAR REALLY KICK IN THEN?
"I wasn't that great for the first five or fifteen laps of a run. I was sort of in the way. But I tried to hold my position the best I could because after 15 or 20 laps, we'd really get to going around the top. If I had to run the bottom like most guys did, we wouldn't have run well at all tonight.
The top works for me pretty much at 60 percent of the tracks we run at on the circuit. I like running up there. I don't know why. But I try to set my car up to do that. We are probably off five percent or whatever from some of the really fast cars that we're competing with up front; in the engine department, we've gained a lot this year. But running the high side sort of carries the momentum of the car and helps you on the straight-aways quite a bit. We're gaining a lot in our motor department; it's not a hack on them at all. But it really helps to run up there. It keeps the momentum up."
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAST YEAR AND THIS YEAR AS HE LEAVES CALIFORNIA TO RACE IN RICHMOND:
"Well, our team is starting to really peak at this point of the season. We are running well at almost every track, every week. This is a great time for us to really be sort of peaking. We'll try to take advantage of it and hopefully it will last for a few more races and we can put ourselves in position to win that championship. There is a lot of great competition and it's going to be very difficult to win, but I think we've got the tangibles that it takes as far as the people and personnel and cars and whatnot. But I'm just really proud of my team, to be honest with you. A lot of credit goes to them. I haven't changed much and I don't think I'm much different than I was last year. I'm just really proud of my team and they give me such a great effort every week and it really means a lot."
GOING TO RICHMOND, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ONLY HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ONE GUY, KASEY KAHNE, POSSIBLY KNOCKING YOU OUT OF THE TOP 10 INSTEAD OF THREE OR FOUR AS IN THE PAST
"Not so much. You have to really look at the obvious there. Any one of these guys can knock you out. It ain't so much Kasey. Kasey might make it and somebody else gets knocked out. But I don't think Kasey is really to blame for whoever doesn't make the Chase is what I'm saying. It's so close in points. I like Kasey a lot and I don't want to look at him a in an adversary in that way. I want to enjoy racing with him. He's a great competitor and a lot of fun to race with. Whoever does make the Chase deserves it, and I hope we're a part of that program."
CASEY MEARS CAME IN AT ONE POINT AND TOPPED OFF WITH GAS WITH THE INTENT OF TRYING TO MAKE IT TO THE END. WAS THERE EVER ANY CONSIDERATION IN YOUR PIT TO DO THAT?
"No, not really; absolutely not. There was probably zero discussion because of the track position. We weren't in great track position at that time. We had a good car and Tony Jr. sort of knew there was a 90 percent chance you'd run out of gas. And you saw that Clint (Bowyer) was the only guy that made it. So, you didn't see a lot of guys take that chance. If it was a clear bet, you'd see a lot of people do it. And it was so close and there was a rare chance to even make it so only a few guys would give it a shot. You guys (the media) always ask do you race hard, do you race for the win, or just to get points, or take it easy to just try to make the Chase? Those are the instances where you're maybe not taking it easy, but just being conservative. You don't give up track position if costs you. If you lose to Clint Bowyer and three other guys, at least you finished ahead of the people you needed to be ahead of. But you race as hard as you ever do on the track itself. But that's where you make different decisions. Early in the season, you might go for it, but now you've got to be pretty conservative on the pit calls."
-credit: gm racing