Dale Earnhardt Jr. Texas II Friday media visit

Team Chevy Racing press release

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD BY TRADITION/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed 2012, the addition of Kasey Kahne, Daytona Testing along with other topics.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING THIS WEEKEND AT TEXAS? “Pushing in the middle in one and two and snap the back off at the exit of two and be really loose into three and try to just get around the rest of the track the best you can. Temperatures should be cool and the track should have a lot of grip, should have a lot of speed and starting the race at two and should end when the sun is going down or in the dark, with the time change, so it will be pretty quick.”

DOES EDDIE GOSSAGE JUST CRACK YOU UP? TONY STEWART SAYS CARL (EDWARDS) IS GOING TO HAVE A LONG THREE WEEKS AND EDDIE HE HAS MADE BANNERS, DON KING POSTERS, HE IS A PIECE OF WORK ISN’T HE? “He tries pretty hard, he does a lot of cool stuff to promote his race track and to set himself apart which you have to appreciate his energy there.”

HAVE YOU STARTED LOOKING AT THINGS TO IMPROVE YOUR CAR IN 2012 OVER THE NEXT THREE WEEKS? “We just go to every race track every week trying to find something, trying to find speed. It ain’t really about trying to prepare for any certain time or any certain thing you just go to the race track every week and you try what you can to get it as good as you can, be as good as you can. That might happen tomorrow, it might happen next year, you just never know.”

YOU AND STEVE LETARTE SEEM TO GET ALONG REALLY WELL, WHAT IS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP THIS YEAR AND WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR NEXT YEAR OUT OF THAT RELATIONSHIP? “I just hope we can continue to improve, we have been getting better as a team and I just hope we can continue that. He has done a great job and he is a lot of fun to work with. We have gotten along really well; we have not had any problems, no arguments on the radio, no disagreements, so on that front it has been excellent. I think that has been a big change for me.”

WILL IT BE A BIG CHANGE HAVING KASEY KAHNE COMING TO THE GARAGE, WILL IT CHANGE THE DYNAMIC OF THE GARAGE ANY? “It definitely will. New ideas, new thoughts and new ways of doing things, they will introduce all those into the mix I’m sure, I have a lot of respect for Kenny Francis and his talent and his knowledge, and I fell certain he can make everybody in that company better just by being a part of it.”

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, HAVE YOU SEEN DIFFERENT DURING THIS CHASE WITH THE NO. 48 TEAM AS OPPOSED TO THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS? “Nothing really, they just had a little bit of bad luck, and we have not run as good as we would have liked to all year long. Obviously, as a group we have not been as competitive as we all wish we were. For the most part, I don’t think there is a group that works any harder than our shop and even now, they are in a bit of a hole on the championship side of it, they really put a lot of effort into it and are very professional on the way they carry themselves.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED ON MARK MARTIN’S ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY? “No, not really, I figured Mark, he is pretty resilient, and I knew he would find himself something to keep himself occupied. He is very fortunate that at his age, he has the opportunity, but he is really talented and he is very fast and can get in cars and do great things. As long as he wants to race, he should have that opportunity, based off his talent. I wish him well, I like Michael (Waltrip) as a person, and as an owner, I think he is probably a lot of fun, I think Mark will enjoy that experience.

ARE YOU GOING TO DO THE DAYTONA TEST IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS? “Yes”

IS THAT SOMETHING WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT IT SAID THAT IS SOMETHING I WANT TO DO, AS PART OF FIGURING OUT WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO WITH THIS TWO CAR DRAFT? “Yes, absolutely, I was hoping to get the opportunity as soon as we could, I like going to Daytona, I like the area and I am glad that NASCAR is putting together the opportunity to try some things, and get innovative on improving the draft, improving the races at Daytona and Talladega.”

DO YOU THINK IT IS BETTER TO WORK ON IT NOW INSTEAD OF WAITING UNTIL JANUARY? “Well, if we can answer some questions now, it is going to give us a better opportunity to continue to improve when we get into January. If we can go ahead and knock some of the work out of the way, “X” off the things that don’t work, see some potential and take that back to the house and work on it, maybe when we go in January we can really, take those next several steps that are going to be essential to get in the drafting and racing more life we want I guess.”

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF MIND GAMES LATE IN THE YEAR, (JIMMIE) JOHNSON PLAYED THEM WITH (DENNY) HAMLIN BECAUSE HE WAS THE EXPERIENCED ONE, (TONY) STEWART IS PLAYING THEM NOW WITH (CARL) EDWARDS BECAUSE HE MIGHT HAVE A LITTLE BIT MORE EXPERIENCE THAN CARL, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT? “I guess they are part of it. I guess there a way to psych-out your opponent. It has been around the sport for a long time, guys always talking trash back and forth and pushing each other’s buttons. You will get a guy so frustrated that he will do some things that he typically would not do and make some mistakes some mistakes on the race track he typically would not make.”

WHAT WAS THE FUNNIEST MIND GAME YOUR DAD EVER PLAYED DO YOU REMEMBER? “Naw, I don’t”

LSU OR BAMA? “Huh, oh, Bama probably because of Mike Davis, he is a big Bama fan and I have always considered that state my second home, so I always enjoy being down there and being around in that area, a lot of fun.”

IS THIS A TRACK YOU ALWAYS EXPECT TO DO WELL AT AND WILL BE DISAPPOINTED IF YOU WALK AWAY WITHOUT AT LEAST A TOP-FIVE? “Yea, I mean, that is what I expect to go out there and run in the top-five and lead laps and try to win the race. I think that I would be disappointed if we do not do that. Finishing in the top-ten is ok, but really not what we are after.”

WHAT ARE THE INDICATORS IN PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING THAT WILL LET YOU KNOW YOU CAN REACH THOSE GOALS? “We just look at your lap times versus everybody else, and if they are better than everyone else’s you feel pretty good, you get some confidence in your car. Once you get some confidence that is a big deal, it really takes you the rest of the weekend, helps you through the rest of the weekend. If you can put up consistently fast times throughout practice, you will be pretty happy and that is really more important tomorrow than today.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE IN PHOENIX? “I don’t know, it should be interesting, I would not be too critical on the track, the first go round. If it is a great race, then fine, if it is less than stellar race I would not be too critical about it. It is a new surface, and it is going to take a little bit of work. The great thing about that area is, it is so hot, and it is really hot. The track will get sand blown, throughout the year, all year long, so of any track in the series, it will weather and wear the quickest. This surface will improve more dramatically than others. I would just caution everybody to be patient and not be too critical of the place when they see the first race there. They did an awesome job on the surface and I thought it was a great improvement of what we had, once the surface ages a little bit the tracks will become a lot more racier, and that should happen sooner than most tracks.”

HOW DID THE TEST GO THERE? “It was weird, we laid down some rubber but it was in tracks, like you could see where the right rear tires ran and where the left side tires ran around the racetrack and there was no rubber where the middle of the car was and there was no rubber on the outside or inside and everybody had to follow that track, it was like wagon wheel trail and if you got out of that little spot, you would spin out or push or almost wreck, so I don’t know how the race is going to be. If you are not in those little tracks man, you might be in trouble.”

ARE YOU BEING MORE ANALYTICAL, MORE VOCAL AS A DRIVER NOW THAN YOU WERE IN THE PAST FEW YEARS? “I think that, I am more vocal now, because I am a lot less frustrated, when I get frustrated, I shut my mouth because I don’t want to say something that I am going to regret. A lot of times I will clam up a little it. I have not been that frustrated this year, I think I have been able to be real vocal with Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and my group. I think that is when you can express yourself. It is best when you do communicate, it is best when you have your intentions and ideas and thoughts out there on the table for everyone to understand.”

WHAT ARE YOUR EARLY THOUGHTS ON THE FUEL INJECTION CAR? “I don’t think I can tell a difference. We went to Charlotte and tested it and it felt exactly like the carbureted car, so I was really surprised and happy that it was like that. I ran it at Phoenix as well and it was very similar, I was real happy.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, earnhardt, fort worth, hendrick