DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: WHAT WOULD A WIN MEAN SUNDAY? "It is a tough racetrack. It takes a lot - not only from the driver, but from the crew. Just one look at pit road and you can understand how hard and ...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WHAT WOULD A WIN MEAN SUNDAY?
"It is a tough racetrack. It takes a lot - not only from the driver, but from the crew. Just one look at pit road and you can understand how hard and difficult it must be for a crew to turn out good, solid stops all day. One mistake on that pit road right there will cost you many more positions than you would see at anther racetrack and they're hard to make up here. It's very difficult to pass - even with the new grinding that they did. I believe we are back down speed-wise, where we used to be before they ground the track, so I don't know if the second groove will be as successful as it was last fall. But, it is a tough racetrack. It used to be so frustrating to watch here when I was coming to watch my father. It was a very frustrating race to watch because it's so competitive and so close, so winning a race here - I have a good understanding of what that would mean. It would be a good accomplishment. It's a tough racetrack. All day long you're constantly on the bumper of one guy and you've got another guy on yours and you're trying not to spin somebody out and not get spun out at the same time, and keep the tires straight and not knock the toe-in out and things like that and not jump the curb all day long. There is just a lot going on - a lot of spinning the tires up off the corner. It takes a real smooth foot and good handle on the wheel to be able to drive up off the corner all day here and be good on long runs."
MORE ON THE EMOTIONS HE FELT IN THE CAR LAST WEEK AT TALLADEGA
"Some of the moves we made, some of the slicing and dicing and some of the passes we made -- not to pick on them; they just happened to be the guys there - but, when all the Hendrick cars were lined up on the inside and it was me on the outside with a few guys trying to struggle to work together to get up through there and I didn't have my teammates - Michael. It was kind of like when he said he was glad that I tried to beat him in the Pepsi 400 last year - that was really fulfilling. Unfortunately, he wasn't in the race to be competitive after being taken out in the crash, but it was fulfilling to be able to shut up a lot of critics that complained mine and Michael's tactics of working together in the draft. We didn't clearly dominate, leading every lap like we had in the past. And, with everything we overcome. You just felt so far out of it at one point and then right there in the middle of it the next. When you get tugged one way or the other, it's emotional. So, when we were standing there in victory lane, that was really a good feeling. It would be one of the top two or three highlights of my career, at this point."
HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED THOSE EMOTIONS BEFORE?
"Sure. When you win a championship, when your dad is standing there with you and you both have the trophy; winning The Winston when I had watched him win all those Winstons and standing there with the same trophy that he had won before and it was with my name on it - it was similar to that. I was standing there after four straight wins and I knew how Buddy Baker felt about it and I could imagine what was going through his mind, because he had known me since I was just six years old. I think he realizes the respect I have for the old school side of the sport. It was cool after eight out of the 10 races have been won by Earnhardts and all that.
"It's just amazing. Winning on Saturday - I won on Saturday, but I couldn't celebrate because I knew what was coming up the next day and that was all I was thinking about. It was a relief, but at the same time - coming back from all the things we had suffered - I just kept thinking. Up until about 50 laps to go, my main thought was 'how could I get in the top 10 because I've got to get these points and get out of here.' I was afraid we weren't going to get good points to get of there and stay in that points race."
IS IT UNFAIR TO YOU FOR PEOPLE TO THINK THAT YOU WANT BREAKS IN THE SPORT OR ARE PROVIDED BREAKS?
"Yeah, I feel like it's unfair sometimes. It's unfortunate. I might be guilty of it or have been guilty of it in the past. I've always been a 'speak your mind' kind of person, and I'm sure I've stomped on some people's feelings. A lot of times when you drive into the garage you've got to check your feelings at the gate. You can't really let what one driver or another might say about you, bother you. Dale Jarrett - he is probably one of the closest friends I have in the garage area - he has disagreed maybe with some of the things that I have done or I've done personally or whatever. That's just one professional speaking to another. I try not to take those things too personally because I look at those guys as friends, too. But, like I said, when you walk into that garage you've got to leave your feelings at the gate. You can't let anything that is said toward you or your team carry over too far. If you can handle it or ask or inquire about it inside the same fence - fine. But, once you hear about it and you're back at the house there ain't much you can do about it."
YOU DON'T WANT ANY EXTRA BREAKS, DO YOU?
"I don't feel like I get treated any differently. We went into that whole weekend feeling under the microscope, feeling more pressure than anybody to get through the tech line. Our car has been late onto the lineup at Daytona and Talladega this year for the '500' and this past race at Talladega, so we're under a lot of pressure, I feel like. It's humorous to me to hear that somebody thinks NASCAR would show favoritism or whatever because if you were in my shoes you would see the other end of that and the fact that they don't. It's hard. They are under so much pressure because they want to show an equal playing field. If they feel like we're bending those rules they are going to dig underneath every rock they can find to see what we've got. We're probably having to clean out our closet a little more thorough than the rest of the field when it comes to going through the tech line at these racetracks like that. It's good to come into Martinsville and places like this and put good numbers in practice and be able to qualify well, to be able to get top fives and stuff like that. It does seem like it's not such a big deal. I feel like I haven't really seen in the past 20 years that I've been around the sport where I felt like NASCAR made a call that was leaning toward one guy over another. It's always seemed disgustingly fair at some times - kind of like a parent would be in a way. I seen my old man get penalized and thrown out of races where I just thought it was so ridiculous. I couldn't believe it and I know the drivers and crew chiefs weren't making those calls."