DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed DEI-Ganassi merger, NASCAR testing policy, Brad Keselowski and other topics. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE ...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed DEI-Ganassi merger, NASCAR testing policy, Brad Keselowski and other topics.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE DEI/GANASSI MERGER? "I think it is good for both teams to try to do that. It gives those guys a good opportunity to try to get through the season financially. Chip Ganassi is a racer. They really need somebody like that. I just hope that they move forward and make some things happen. It is tough this year, tough next year, especially for all the guys trying to find money. That is this biggest problem.
"There are some great personnel at Ganassi. Steve Hmiel will be reunited with a bunch of old employees at DEI and buddies. The need a racer around there over the top of things and really making hard decisions. It will be interesting to see how all of that works. I think it should be seamless and it should be productive for everybody"
IS THERE SOME IRONY THERE THAT THIS HAPPENED GIVEN WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO LAST YEAR? "I don't know. I think it is good for the teams though. I am happy for Martin (Truex, Jr.) and Aric (Almirola). I think it will be good for Juan (Pablo Montoya) to work with them guys. Juan is really going to enjoy working with Martin. It should be good. I think it is great for Ganassi to give his company a boost. It is really good for both.
"I think Juan will enjoy working with Martin and Aric and those teams. They will be able to work off each other. It will be exciting to see new data come in from the DEI guys and the DEI guys will be excited to see what Ganassi has been doing over the last several years as far as setups and what direction they have went. When you accumulate that information together and the bits and pieces that are good from each side and mold it together, you might really improve all of it as won."
ARE YOU UPSET ABOUT THE LAYOFFS AT DEI? "That was going to happen regardless of whether they merged or not I am pretty sure. They weren't going to run four teams, or three or whatever. You know what I mean. You can't blame a single individual for the layoffs. The sport is going to have a lot of those hopefully only for the short term. But it is not because of the merger."
TAKE US BACK IN TIME AND TELL US THE EXCITEMENT YOU FELT GOING IN TO THIS SEASON AND HOW THE SEASON TURNED OUT: "I was super excited about the way the season was going to start. I couldn't wait to get to work earlier this year. It was a long year, we worked really hard. It went good at sometimes, sometimes it went poorly. For the most part I was real proud of just getting the season in the bank and getting done and looking forward to next year. I am really happy to be with Rick (Hendrick) and working with the guys I am working with."
ARE THERE ANY ARES YOU NEED TO WORK ON? "I need to do a little bit better in the summer. There are a bunch of tracks that are backed up there in the summer that we just don't run good at. I need to work on my string of races there at about the 5/8 mark of the season."
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DAD WOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS HAPPENING? "I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. Sorry, I really don't know.
"He would had better luck at securing the sponsorships than they currently do with the state that they are in.
"When my Daddy died, all of that changed. Everything about everything changed. If he was here, he would be sad, but he is not and everybody has to go do their own thing and make their own way. Everybody has got to take care of themselves. He ain't here to take care of everybody, so you have to do your own thing, take care of yourself. Gotta do what they gotta do and that said and I ain't got nothin' to do with it and I don't really have an opinion about it. I want them to succeed, I want them to be happy. I want it to work. But I can't exhaust any of my emotion over it because of what I got going on myself. I have to get my own thing going, I got to do better. I got things I could do better.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NASCAR'S NEW TESTING POLICY? "I am happy about that. I am really looking forward to that happening. I think it is a great choice. It is going to save each individual team, like the No. 5 car, the No. 24 car about a million and half dollars a year so it is a great move.
"January is awesome now. We obviously will go to Nashville and sign autographs and we will go to Daytona probably and still have the FanFest type of deal down there. Now maybe without the testing going on, we can make those events more exciting for the fans and more exciting for the drivers and everybody involved. I think that would be a good to look at that opportunity to really turn that event in to something special like it used to be back when it was in Winston-Salem. I think drivers would appreciate being a part of it.
Now, the actual month of January is just going to be so much easier. I am tremendously excited about it. We had back-to-back tests at Las Vegas and California and then you had three days at Daytona and two days in the Nationwide car at Daytona and possibly Kentucky and a whatever there."
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF JUNIOR MOTORSPORTS RIGHT NOW? "The No. 88 car is running all year; the No. 5 is going to run seven races. I think it is perfect. We (Hendrick Motorsports) merged together to try to consolidate our expenses a little bit and it worked. We didn't get rid of any employees at the merger and we tried to accommodate everybody and keep everybody. But the economy got poor and we were unable to get sponsor for the car next year.
"Personally, I like this situation better. I like having one car running for it and I like having the other car just doing some kind of an all star style program that is a little spotty, just race here and there. It is much more easier to do. That is really what I wanted. My goal for that whole company, I want to keep it going however I got to keep it going. When I retire from Sprint Cup Series, I would like to drive for that team for however long I want to keep driving in a limited role. Not for a championship or not go hard, just go out there and just enjoy racing probably way past my abilities, you know what I mean. So hopefully I can keep it going until then."
WAS IT DIFFICULT TO LAY PEOPLE OFF AT JUNIOR MOTORSPORTS? "It always is difficult to fire anybody, especially when you have to do it in a big chunk. It is tough, it is not easy. It was 20% of our shop force, maybe about 17 people."
WHAT WILL THE NEW TESTING POLICY DO FOR SOMEONE LIKE BRAD KESELOWSKI? "We doing enough with simulations and seven-post at the shop all week long to show up in the ballpark. I think it is great for us."
TALK ABOUT BRAD'S CHANGES THROUGHOUT THIS SEASON? "He does great, he is a good kid. Way easier to talk to now. He gets in here and sees what is going on and becomes more and more a part of his life. It is way easier to communicate with him now. Tons better.
"I didn't do anything. Just being here and his own personal experiences probably taught him more. I don't really talk to him that much work related. I don't give him much advice. That is not the style of relationship we have for some reason. Which is fine with me, I think it is good for him. He learns. He is good, he is pretty good. He is learning more. He has a question, boy, he isn't afraid to come ask anybody and that is great. He needs to be like that."
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IN THE OFF SEASON? "I am going to take my family somewhere. I am going to do that right after the banquet, then I am just going to stay home. I am taking my uncles, Robert and Jimmy Gee hunting right up to Christmas Eve. New Year's, I might go watch the street stock race at Rockingham. Just might."
DO YOU HOPE THERE COMES A POINT IN TIME THAT WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS AT DEI THE MEDIA STOPS RUNNING TO SEE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT IT? "Well, I just don't have much to say about It anymore. I did. But I am past it and a little bit farther removed from it. I don't have the initial knee jerk reaction about it no more when those type of things happen to them. I was interested. I am more on the sidelines with everyone else now. Where I sort of just view it from a distance. I still have emotional connection with it where I want it to work. I want it to do good but a lot has changed. A lot has changed. It is difficult to feel any real close connection to it."
DO YOU THINK BRAD IS READY FOR CUP: "Just drivin' race cars man, being out on the race track. The Cup cars drive so much different, it will do him some good to get in there and run some next year. But I am not sure he is ready for the full season. He had a good year this year. I know that would probably would rather, if he is going to do as much work as it did this year, he would probably rather do it in the Cup Series but I think another year in Nationwide, he will learn great lessons and be a better race car driver at the end of the season."
"He learns every day not to worry so much. Not to worry so much, not to sweat the small stuff. Not to really worry about the things out of his hands and out his control, I think that is probably most important. It is a lot easier to do your job and focus when you don't have a million things going around in head that you are worried about."
ARE YOU STILL HIS LANDLORD? "Yea. Which is good. It is a good program for him, you know. I'm not too tough on the rent. Buying a house and doing all those different types of things are kind of challenging. He just doesn't really want to fool with that right now. That apartment is really big enough for everything he needs. He is able to focus on his driving under them circumstances I think. Plus he is close. He lives right next door to T.J., who is his spotter and an couple of his crewman live within 20 yards of him in other duplexes so that is a good program right there."
-credit: gm racing