DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed season to date, aggressive driving, racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other topics. Q. How much...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed season to date, aggressive driving, racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other topics.
Q. How much do you pay attention to the points?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Yeah, I mean, you pay attention to it about as much as I paid attention to it from day one. It's about the same all year.
Q. You're so close?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Yeah.
Q. How much is it going to matter if you're in and out one week?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: You want to be in it all the time. I do, yeah.
Q. There's a lot of talk coming into this season about engineering. Now that we've gotten this far into the season, do you feel those changes have helped you guys?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: I think they helped us because we're running better, and we're better in the points and much more competitive than we were last year. It's hard to tell what effect it really had on the No. 5 team. Obviously, they're not running as good, so it's easy to to point to that. We really just took Chris Heroy from the team. I think pretty much everything else stayed the same. They've ran good, and then they've struggled at times too, but I've asked Mark if he felt like that was what had caused their struggles, and he doesn't think so.
I think that they're just kind of in the same boat we are where we're just missing a piece or two, and you'll have it at some point and then it will just be gone. There's no explanation, you know. It's really puzzling how that happens, and it's really, really hard to get back.
Q. Winning is always special, but what would it mean to win this one?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Well, it's a big event. It's a big track and with a lost history. And a lot of publicity goes along with winning here. So it would be great for our team, our sponsors, and our whole group as a whole would benefit from it.
Q. Your take on Edwards Keselowski? I mean, he's obviously been in situations similar to that where you're trying to get around somebody or somebody's trying to get around you. Did you see anything in particular that you felt was out of line? Are you okay with the penalties?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Well, I don't really have a whole lot to say about it. I just feel like what people were witnessing what people witnessed that night has been a part of the sport for a long time, like it or not. Guys run over each other sometimes. I feel like NASCAR did a good job how they handled it. You know, they reset the points and everything, basically. Which was a good deal, because you really can't undo you really can't undo what's been done as far as the results and who won and who was wrecked and who finished where. So I thought it was handled well. But that's, you know, that's been a part of the sport for a long time. It was obviously I guess it was a little too obvious there, but some cases are more obvious than others. But that's been happening for a very long time in the sport. You know, it's just part of it.
Q. What have you gotten out of your time with the National Guard that you wouldn't get from another sponsor?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: I think just meeting the different personalities in the military, all the soldiers and hearing some pretty unique stories about them personally. I find a lot of interest in that. For some reason, I don't know why, but with the military you really get to understand the chain of command and the uniform of their business and how they work and how they're organized and how things happen and how they choreograph whatever they do, whether it be an appearance or something that I'm involved with them.
I think I get to see the infrastructure a little bit easier, and a little more understandable than you do with a corporate company. At the same time it's not that important to know all that stuff, but it's a little easier to see with the military. So that's pretty interesting.
And there is a lot to be learned there because they're really professional about a lot of things, so it's pretty fun to see all of that. That kind of stuff kind of rubs off on you.
If you're like me, being an owner in the Nationwide Series, a lot of the things that I learned from how they do business rubs off on how I do business, so it helps me.
Q. Can you talk about how you represent them when you're out there?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Well, I try to yeah, I think you do. I like to feel more a part of them than to represent them. I guess I feel more one of the guys than anything. I just try to do the best I can to be professional and not do anything that would put them in a bad light or anything like that. So I try to keep my head on my shoulders.
Q. This track can be tough at times for you. Do you feel like you're in for a good result?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: I feel like I am. We've ran good here a lot of times that we've been here, but we don't have a lot of great finishes. I think the only good finish we had we stole by taking two tires or not pitting late or something. Yes, I feel like I'm due for a good run.
Q. You've got the 100th Cup race coming up at Bristol in about a month. It's been a special place for you. What are some of your favorite memories there?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: I think my favorite of all are just going to those races when I was a kid in 1985. I remember being at both races. In 1987 I remember being at both races. That place when you're young and everything in the world's exciting, I mean, that place really stands out to you. Just being there was just really, you knew that you were seeing something really unique, and there is nothing like that anywhere else in the country. It boggles my mind that nobody's had in all the tracks that they've built since that track was built or since the mid '80s when that track was really starting to when people were really starting to understand what they had in their hands there with that kind of facility, it just boggles my mind that nobody's tried to recreate it because it does so well.
Q. How do you feel about the proposed changes to the Nationwide Series with you being an owner and also a two time Nationwide champion?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: What are they?
Q. Talking about not allowing the Cup drivers to go for the championship?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Yeah, well, I just think all those things are as far as I know, they're just all hearsay right now, so I don't want to comment on anything that's just hypothetical. But whatever they decide to do will be better for the series, I'm sure.
Q. Do you think that there should be some way to kind of grow the talent over there without the Cup guys being able to, you know, compete on a regular basis though?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: I think they have to have the Cup guys over there to a certain extent. I think they're as important to the series as the series is important to young kids coming up, so there's got to be a balance. If you took the Cup drivers out of the race the at St. Louis, although it probably still would have been a good race, I'm not quite sure that it would have been it would have gotten as much attention. Young drivers that come up through the Nationwide Series get the recognition, not from outrunning each other, but from outrunning Cup guys that are running in those series. And you can look back over the years and see where the guys who get picked out of that series are the ones that are able to compete at the same level as the Cup guys who come down to that series. So I think you have to kind of have them as a measuring stick to some extent. But I think whatever NASCAR does will be better for the series. I know the series is a real important part to the sport, and I have a lot of pride in being involved in it.
There's no true gauge to measure, but it does feel like the series was a bit stronger years ago, but there's no real way of knowing why it feels that way, why I feel that way. I don't think it has anything to do with the Cup guys going in there and running a lot. I think when they're running in there they help the series. When Brad wasn't a regular, he was able to get in there and compete, and that's what these other young guys need to do. They need to get into cars and step up and compete and be able to run with Brad and with Carl and with Kyle and they need to compete with them when they get those opportunities. There's been opportunities in that series. There still are opportunities in that series.
Q. Could you envision a different point system, perhaps, if the driver was in the Top 35 in Cup?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Yeah, I don't really know. I don't care to get in the middle of it. I really it doesn't matter to me what they do. They can leave it like it is or they can make some changes, whatever they want to do. It doesn't make a difference from me.
Q. From an owner trying to get sponsorship?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: You know, if the Cup drivers leave the series
Q. I'm not saying leave the series?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Yeah, but if he how's that going to change the sponsor's point of view because ex Cup driver's not available? You think they're going to go to some young guy? They'll go up to Cup. They'll follow them to Cup. There's plenty of room up there for more sponsors. So I don't think that really helps.
Q. Does it help you getting sponsors when you bring in a Cup name?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's real difficult to tell these people to believe in Josh Wise or somebody when they could have Jamie or somebody like that.
But that's just the way it is, and that's fine with me. I really particularly don't mind who is in the car, as long as it's on the racetrack and it's running and I'm employing all my family back there at JMR sports, I'm happy. But I do like to bring Brad along or somebody like that like we did with Truex and Brad. That was a blast to be able to do that and make friendships with those guys that will last forever and have been a part of their careers in some way. That's fun. That's the ultimate. That's the ultimate victory as far as being an owner. But it doesn't happen every season. It's not easy, even if you had the dollars, it's not easy to go pluck a guy and make a Brad every year. It's not easy to do that. Not everybody can not everybody has that talent within them. And I don't have this eye for talent where I can nail it every time. I mean, you're going to make mistakes in some of the people that you decide to bank on. And you just have to, you know, you just have to roll with the punches and keep regrouping and trying different things and hoping something works, something sticks.
Q. Stiffy (Tony Eury, Jr.) seemed pretty confident putting Josh (Wise) in the car, and you really proved him right Saturday night?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: I really liked Josh, and Tony Jr. likes Josh, that's important. I'm fine with whoever is in the car, as long as Tony Jr. and Pops are happy. They've got to be happy with who they're going to race with. If they're happy, they can keep on racing with said driver for however long they want to run with them. Tony Jr. believes in Josh and feels like he's got a pretty decent bit of talent and wants to keep working with him. So we'll hopefully be able to do that some more this year and see what's going on.
Q. Points wise you're outside the Top 12. Looking at the next few races coming up, what are your thoughts about breaking into the Top 12?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: We're just trying to dig every lap to get everything we can get at all these racetracks and just see what happens. Just taking it one lap at a time, I guess.
-source: gm racing