Earnhardt Jr. - Bristol II Friday media visit

Team Chevy press release

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/BRISTOL 50TH ANNIVERSARY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed the new agreement with Danica Patrick for full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series at JR Motorsports; winning a race, making the Chase and other topics.

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE DECISION THAT DANICA PATRICK MADE? “I think it’s a good decision, man. We’re looking forward to it. Hopefully she enjoys it and has a good time with it. We’re going to try to put together good race cars and see if we can’t win some races.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI SAID ON TWITTER THAT IF SHE DOESN’T MAKE IT, IT’S GOING TO BE A LONG TIME BEFORE ANOTHER WOMAN GETS A CHANCE, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? “You never know, man. People get opportunities in this sport many different ways. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think that she has shown to be a tough racer and a marketing machine. She is really savvy and I think she just opened the door myself, to a lot more opportunities for other women, regardless of whether she measures up to everybody’s expectations or not.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HER RUNNING THE INDY 500? “Whatever she wants to do. She can do whatever she wants to do, it doesn’t matter to me. If I had any experience in those cars, I might know a little bit more about the answer. But, whatever she feels like she wants to do, she ought to do it.”

DO YOU WORRY THAT IF SHE DOES DO IT, IT WILL BE A DISTRACTION? “They don’t run the same day as the Nationwide Series, I don’t think so.”

DID SHE TALK TO YOU BEFORE THE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE THIS WEEK? “No, not really. Her and Kelley basically hashed the whole deal out and I really didn’t have to get involved in it. It was pretty easy on my end.”

HOW GOOD WOULD IT BE IF YOU GOT A WIN IN BEFORE THE CHASE STARTS? “That would be really really really good if we could get that done before Richmond because it is a lot of pressure to go into that last race sort of on the verge, on the edge. It’s really really a lot of pressure and takes away a bit of your focus from that specific race and your ability to go out there and really try and win it. You tend to be a little more cautious than you typically would be in any other situation. So, I would love to get it out of the way early, but, we’re just going to keep trying to do what we can do and control our race car and drive the best we can and see what happens. Them other guys are going to be pretty strong I am sure.”

TALK ABOUT THE CHASE AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO MAKE IT AND IS IT MORE PERSONAL OR MORE PROFESSIONAL? “I don’t know how important it is. It is probably all professional really. You have a lot of race fans; a lot of sponsors and me as a driver; my car owner; everybody. That is your ultimate goal to get in the Chase at the start of the season. It is important to us all on a professional level. On a personal level, I don’t really know how much it matters to me. Making the Chase is just an afterthought. I really want to win the championship, you know. Making the Chase is great and all, but as a person, you want to be the champion. Making the Chase doesn’t really make you feel better at the end of the season if you don’t win a championship, you are really disappointed. I don’t really think about, I need to make the Chase, personally, those aren’t my thoughts. I think more about what could we have done last week? What do we need to go into Bristol? What did we do last time we raced here? I’m thinking more about the particular day-to-day stuff and I want to win a race. How can we put ourselves in position to do that? Things like that. The Chase stuff, the points and everything sort of takes care of itself. You try to do the best you can throughout the year to put yourself in the best position there, but, I miss the Chase, I’ll probably catch a lot of s* about it. It will save me a lot of s* if I make the Chase so that is probably the only thing personally that I have to worry about.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE TONY EURY, JR. WITH DANICA IN THE CUP SERIES NEXT YEAR? “I think they’ll figure that all out. I don’t have an opinion one way or another. If she likes working with Tony, Jr., then she’ll express that and that could be probably worked out. And, if Tony, Jr. wants to do that, that’s up to him. It’s ot up to me. I don’t have an opinion one way or another. I just kinda want to help her at the Nationwide level where JR Motorsports is located. Try to give her the best experience we can and help her learn as fast as she wants to learn to help her. She’s made a choice and we want to try and help her get her deal started.”

DO YOU CARE WHEN SHE MAKES HER CUP DEBUT? “No.”

SO IF SHE DOES IT AT THE DAYTONA 500, THAT’S FINE? “Yes. I don’t have an opinion of what I think is best for her on that end. I think she is old enough and been racing long enough to make good choices and whatever choice she makes will be a good one. I think Daytona would be a tough deal to turn down. It’s obviously probably the biggest race of the season. It’s the best opportunity to secure sponsorship dollars at that level. I’m sure that will be something that they look at. We are just focusing on how we can help her in the Nationwide Series and if she has some questions or wants some advice…she doesn’t really ask me for advice much. She seems to have found the people she seems to trust and those people that help guide. If she needs to seek out more advice, she’ll do it. I don’t really deal in hypotheticals too well but I’m sure that whatever happens will be good. Whatever happens is going to be good for everybody.”

DO YOU FEEL SHE FACES A LOT OF UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS? “Well, she’s faced them already. She faces a lot of tough criticism and she does a good job of handling it. I think she does a good job of keeping a good attitude, not letting that kind of stuff change the person you are. She knows what she is here to do. She loves to drive race cars and she wants to enjoy doing that and try to be the best she can at that. She keeps a real good attitude about it. Doesn’t let some of the harsh criticism get her down or anything.”

WHAT ARE YOUR GREAT MEMORIES OF BRISTOL? “When I think of Bristol, I think of being 11, 12, 13 years old in ’85, ’86 and ’87, around that time and watching the Wrangler car go around here. Watching a lot of great races at that time here. That was when I really kind of first figured out what was going on. I think the first time I came here was ’85. I watched both races down in turn four on top of a van. That was the greatest part of the racing season was coming here. The one at Charlotte was pretty cool. We didn’t get to a lot of races. Going to July in Daytona was cool. Bristol is so different and couldn’t get enough of it. I couldn’t as a kid. That is what I think about. I think more about that time and that era when I think about Bristol.”

WHAT IS ONE OF THE FIRST-TIME RACE WINNERS THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MEMORY? ”I can’t even remember who they were. Oh, in the history of my career, first time winner. I don’t even know man. I can’t even remember what I did yesterday. (Kevin) Harvick in Atlanta, yea, that was a cool one. Harvick in Atlanta was great. You know they were all pretty neat. It is always fun to see somebody win for the first time. See somebody get that experience. I think Brad’s (Keselowski) winning at Talladega was probably my favorite because of not only him, but the team he was running with was just a surprise for everybody. So that was probably my favorite.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bristol, chevrolet, earnhardt, hendrick, sprint cup