BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: With so many complaints from the drivers, why do they even have the two road course races on the schedule? I don't know. I guess the fans just really like us...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
With so many complaints from the drivers, why do they even have the two road course races on the schedule?
I don't know. I guess the fans just really like us coming into town. If they built an oval track next door, we'd probably race there anyway."
Is this a Merlot crowd?
We're just real popular for some reason. I guess it's real exciting to watch."
Where do you expect to qualify this car?
I don't know.
Was it that rough out there for you in practice today?
We just tried some stuff on the front end and it just wasn't working. So we didn't have time to change it and get some laps in so I don't know what we've got.
When it gets this hot, does that make a difference on the track?
It's frustrating. Hot is no fun no matter where you are.
How competitive do you expect Tony Stewart to be at this track?
He'll be fast. He's got the track figured out and they've got a great set-up. They keep bringing it back every year. They don't seem to be trying to reinvent the wheel. They set a great example for a lot of teams in the garage.
Who do you look to for help in road course racing?
Has he been able to help you out?
I haven't had a chance to talk to him today. But if I need to, I will.
What type of physical pain is Tony Stewart going to have to endure during this race?
It ain't that tough physically. You run at it hard, but you can make so many mistakes. It's a lot of judgment calls -- every shift you make and every braking zone and every time you get in the gas there's all these judgment calls. There are a lot of mistakes to make out there. It's more than four corners, you know. There are 11 or 12 corners. You'll never have a perfect lap. You'll always have a corner you could have done better in. It's frustrating."
There was a story the other day about you getting the rights to your name. Can you talk about that?
I want to own my name. And I think that's important.
Where are you with the points? How concerned are you about this race right now?
Oh, we'll be all right. It's just frustrating because I don't think we'll qualify really well and this ain't like an oval track where you can qualify bad and try to make it up in the race. It's just really frustrating. Tomorrow will be a different day. We have a pretty decent day, but it's a long day when the race starts. We've just got to sort of relax and let it go, I reckon. It's real frustrating. We didn't test this stuff and we didn't have a chance to test it. And I don't think it was a wise choice to bring it. And here we are. We dug ourselves a really deep hole.
Do you think you have a big disadvantage here?
Tomorrow we'll have our car like we ran it last year and we should be okay. Where am I going to qualify today? Probably at the back. And you can't just make up that time. There is no real place to pass. It's frustrating. I want to come out here and be the fastest and qualify first and win the race, you know what I mean?
There aren't many places to pass here, are there?
No, there aren't a whole lot of places to pass. But there are a lot of places to run into people. You just have to try to make your positions on pit road and maybe some kind of crazy pit strategy. These races are so weird, sometimes, you know?
The fans seem pretty knowledgeable?
"Oh, yeah. There is a lot of racing going on year round here at Sonoma. All different kinds of racing. Yeah, these guys definitely know what they're talking about.
What kind of racing are you running as far as keeping the big picture?
"I'm just running every lap as fast as I can possibly run it without crashing. That's about as technical as I get."
When you get past this road race, are you feeling pretty good about being in the Chase?
"Yeah, I feel pretty good about it. We're in the Chase. We're a professional race team. There is a lot of opportunity. We just need to make the right choices and do the right things. I think we'll have a fine year."
On restrictor plate races
I just get in it an tell them whether it's slow or fast. I don't really know what they change to make it better. We've got some gains to make at the plate tracks.
With things going better for you this year, you must feel better about this race, don't you?
No, that's not the case. We had a real fast car here last year. Today, I don't. Last year I was very excited. Right now, I'm very frustrated.
What is the hardest part of this track?
I seem to be having trouble over the corners that turn to the right. I don't really know the numbers of the corners. But any corner that's over the hill and to the right, is where we are having trouble.