DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed the economy, racing at Martinsville, crew chief importance at Martinsville and other topics. DO YOU THINK THE...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed the economy, racing at Martinsville, crew chief importance at Martinsville and other topics.
DO YOU THINK THE WEATHER WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE RACE? "I don't think it will affect the racing too much. I have been lookin' forward to comin' here. I like racin' at Martinsville. I like short track racing. We have run pretty good here. It is probably a wash today, but hopefully we will get a little practice in so everybody will get a good idea on how to get going on Sunday."
HOW DOES A CREW CHIEF DICTATE THE SUCCESS YOU HAVE HERE AT MARTINSVILLE? "A crew chief has a pretty good amount of influence on giving you an opportunity to win here more so than at other tracks. Because, sometimes at Martinsville, we have seen it quite a few times where guys are doing different things on tires on the last stop to win. I think Bobby Labonte did it a couple years back and Denny (Hamlin) did it. It is tough to know what call to make but, seems like especially with this car, a two-tire stop at the end might be more common than with the older car. Seemed like the older car used left-side tires a lot more and this car just wears the rights out. I think you will see it even more now. It is definitely a factor all throughout the race to give yourself track position. It is much like Bristol, if you qualify poorly, you can pit early on the first couple of cautions and then stay out on that 60 or 70 lap caution to get that track position and try to maintain it the rest of the day.
"It is difficult for a driver to keep track of who is doing what other than what you can visually see around you. You can't really see from five or six cars on back the other guys are doing. But you can definitely tell who has beat you off of pit road and how. Hopefully, the crew chiefs really take that in to consideration and are watching how those guys are affected by taking two and whatnot."
SHOULD THERE BE TWO RACES HERE AT MARTINSVILLE? "A couple years back, they really latched on to something unique when they ground the bottom groove and you had a second groove that was actually more preferable. There was a lot of side-by-side racing from front to back and even the ability to pass on the second groove, make passes. They currently don't have that now, once they fixed the surface. It is back to really just getting around the bottom the best you can. So this track lacks some of the characteristics that keeps it from becoming a Bristol or a Richmond, but even with that said, it is still fun to race here. It is a short track and I think it would really be unfortunate for the sport to remove another short track date from the series, because we haven't added short track races in a long time. We haven't seen a new facility built yet we still see some of the most exciting racing of the year at Richmond and you don't have a problem ever selling out Bristol. Where you do at probably 80% of the other track on the circuit. I think that somebody really needs to kind of wake up a little bit and see what is going on there. Get some more short tracks back on this series.
"There is something about this place, it has a lot of history, but so did Darlington and it didn't stand the test of time as far as two date. There will be a day where I think this probably will lose a date but it is unfortunate."
ARE YOU OK THAT NASCAR SAYS THERE AREN'T GOING TO BE ANY CHANGES TO THE CAR NEXT YEAR? "The car is definitely still a work in progress. I think me and Greg (Biffle) both agree that the car isn't a finished product. Whenever they decide to move forward and evolve and let that car change and become a better race car, we will be ready to do that. But until then, we really don't have a choice in the matter."
SHOULD THERE A BETTER WAY TO QUALIFYING THAT IS FAIRER, ESPECIALLY DURING THE CHASE? "I think it is just fine how it is. You can't do anything about the weather. The current system seems to work perfectly."
DO YOU SEE SHORT TRACK RACING MIGHT BE THE SAVING GRACE OF THE SPORT AS THE ECONOMY CONTINUES TO DECLINE? "The economy is in a dire situation. It is pretty severe and there is a good chance it is going to continue to get worse, I don't see how it can not affect every corner and every piece of the puzzle. Everyone who drags a race car to the track knows you don't do it to make money and you do it if you are lucky, you break even doing it. It is a severe issue for all of us as drivers, owners, every person walking in the garage needs to have a greater understanding of what their position is and a plan of action, I guess should we see the situation get even worse, which I think it possibly could. It doesn't look like there is any relief any time soon. It is difficult to say that the short tracks affected any less or any differently than any other part of the sport."
-credit: gm racing