DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS met with media at Pocono Raceway and discussed how his life has changed since joining Hendrick Motorsports; Pocono Raceway; working with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and other...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS met with media at Pocono Raceway and discussed how his life has changed since joining Hendrick Motorsports; Pocono Raceway; working with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and other topics.
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED AND WHAT IS DIFFERENT FROM LAST YEAR NOW THAT YOU HAVE JOINED HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "That is a hard question. It is like shifting gears, I don't know, if is different. Nothing really sticks out. Nothing drastically is different. I have a new job, everything is different about it. I am happier, yes. I have a good team, have good cars. The one thing that may stick out is the pressure and the stress is a lot less because there is more confidence now with the equipment and the team, my future and the company's ability to be a front runner over a long period of time. That is really good. So for the next five years, I will have a good opportunity at that each year. I just don't have to worry, I guess I just really worried a lot about DEI and its future and how successful it would be and how healthy it was, and I don't have to worry about that as much. They have really good people working at Hendrick Motorsports that are there to assure the success of the company for a long time. Those types of things are out of my hands and I can just concentrate on my job. I get good criticism and feedback from my owner that helps me understand what my job is and what I am supposed to do. How to do it differently. It is just an easier deal. My days off are a lot more worry free. I have noticed that a little bit. That is about the only thing I have noticed."
SOME DRIVERS HAVE BEEN CRITICAL OF THIS TRACK (POCONO), ITS CONDITION AND WHETHER IT DESERVES TWO DATES, WHAT IS YOU POSITION ON THAT? "I don't know whether I can debate whether it deserves two races or not. That is really not necessarily up to the tracks quality, putting a good surface down and stuff like that. They fill the stands up full of people, and if you have a good crowd, you should go there more often. I don't know what the numbers are here and how this place compares to other crowds and other events. We don't have many other races up in this market. It would not be smart for us logistically if we are trying to show off our sport to the whole country, it wouldn't be smart to take away from here unless we are going in to a new market.
"The surface of the track, not up to standard, at all. But there are no guidelines in force for that, so really it is up to the race track to leave it like it is and that is that."
IS THIS RACE TOO LONG? "Yea, they are all too long. (LAUGHED) Not this one in particular, all of them in particular. I wish we were running shorter races. I guess I could put up with how rough it is if the race is a little bit shorter. But, they are all quite long. For what the ultimate goal is and what we are all setting out to do, there is a meaningless hundred miles in there somewhere, I am sure we can all find it."
ARE YOU AT ALL CONCERNED ABOUT THE TYPE OF RACING WE MIGHT SEE HERE WITH THE NEW CAR? "No, if the race is poor to watch, we are still in there with our hands full even if the race is not a whole lot of fun to watch, we're still busy. I am not very concerned. One way or another, I am still having to work regardless of what the race looks like. Ain't much I can do to make it better. I try the best I can each week to make it fun for the people that pull for me. That is still totally up to how good of a car we have and our ability to use it and manage it. This track has had some pretty excitin' finishes. As far as just awesome racin', there have not been many races that are just chocked full of excitement from one end to the other. If we have a boring race, was it any more boring than the other races we have seen here before? Just like Dover. Dover is sorta always kinda a boring race. So that was another one last week. But all the race car drivers weren't bored, hell, we were working our tails off, just trying to stay on top of the race track and tryin to work, just not able to put on a better show than that, that is just the way it is."
YOU SAID THE TRACK ISN'T UP TO THE STANDARD, WHAT WILL THAT MEAN ON SUNDAY? "We will be bouncing around and your vision will be impaired slightly."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF KYLE BUSCH DOING THREE RACES AT THREE TRACKS IN THREE SERIES? "I used to always say that I admired the Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyers and Kevin Harvicks of the world for running the full schedule in the Nationwide Series. Man, that is real real tough. Just going from car to car even when they are at the same race track, going from practice to practice, it makes for a real full day on Friday and Saturday, but it is really a lot of work and you are going to do that every weekend. I do it four or five times a year and that is about as much as I can stand. I gotta hand it to Kyle to have the..., he loves driving the race cars and he is having a great season, winning a lot of races. If I was him, that would be a great motivator to keep doing it, but the logistics, especially for a weekend like this has got to be tough. I think it says a lot about what kind of a racer he is. He is pretty damn dedicated."
HAVE YOU DONE ANY MORE POINTS RACING THIS YEAR THAN IN THE PAST? "I was disappointed last week to have all the trouble we had and lose all the points we lost, we have been priding ourselves on our consistency. We didn't get a shot at it last week, but, I don't know, I am running as hard as I can run every lap. I know to be smart enough not to spin out and crash and wreck any other people driving too hard, but I run as hard as my car can go. Every lap when you see my car go by, I am giving it all it has got and in a sense, that is points racing. If you know how to run your car to the limit, take care of it and not put yourself in bad positions, yes, you are thinking points, you are thinking smart, you are trying to finish races. You have got to finish. You can't always be the fastest guy out there and you can't wreck every week and expect to make the Chase. We go out there and do our best and hope that every week we get that opportunity."
IS IT UP TO THE TRACKS OR THE SANCTIONING BODY TO POLICE THE RACE TRACKS? "I would like it if NASCAR was a little strictor toward certain facilities. It is not easy to do that. But I would like it. I think the tracks that NASCAR owns are great race tracks, all of Bruton's tracks are really nice. Any time we ever have a complaint about those facilities; it usually gets tended to, looked out, worked at and fixed. I know it is not easy being a single owner, which is what have here and at Dover. But I think there is a standard to being involved in this sport and I think we need to realize and understand what that standard is and I don't think it is "enforced", I think that is a poor choice of words. I feel like it should be maybe a pleasure and an honor to meet it. That should be really up to the race tracks to do that. I think NASCAR, by the end of this weekend and by the end of hearing all the comments from all the drivers, NASCAR will probably have the same opinion we do. But they can't force someone to make changes; someone has to want to make changes."
WHO OF YOUR TEAMMATES IS YOUR STYLE OF GETTING IN A CORNER CLOSEST TO AMONG YOUR TEAMMATES: "Who is the fastest one. (LAUGHS) Whoever is the one on top. Jimmie is the same way, what his point is, he looks at whose car is quickest and uses their setup and knows their driving style and may adjust himself to that. With the COT, everybody is making a lot of adjustments throughout the weekend to find the way the car wants to go around the race track. It doesn't like to be driven exactly like the old car. It seems to have a certain style that it wants. You look at the guys near or at the top of the board whose setups you know well and maybe you work in that direction with that setup and also maybe find by using their setup how to they are driving the car.
"I think everybody adjusts regardless. Maybe a lot of the guys do and just don't know it. You have to adjust. If the car is tight on entrance, you have to back the corner up that is an adjustment, you roll in the corner and go straight and keep it from the nose pushing worse. Everybody does that, everybody's car has done that in their history of being behind the wheel. A lot of times what I will find or what Jimmie will find or somebody else, by having four teammates, what is fortunate about that is you can put their setup in the car and you will notice right away by the first corner the difference in the setup and how it is working, what it is doing better. Why this other driver is having success with it and your style of driving becomes similar to his due to the setup more so. I don't really know how Jeff drives, maybe Jimmie knows him better than I do. I will go in a direction of what some of the guys are running today and find that my car does things better and I am able to drive it differently. Everybody is out there adjusting. You are always adjusting as a driver week in and week out, lap after lap."
ARE YOU TEAMMATES LEANING ON YOU AT ALL? "No not really. They have been real fast and just had some poor luck at the beginning of the season. Everybody has worked off of each other at one point or another. It has been pretty even up to this point. I have to give Chad and Jimmie the credit for where we are this weekend right now. They seem to have the package we are all sort of studying. It seems to be a different guy each week."
-credit: gm racing