Dale Earnhardt, Jr. set a new record today in Winston Cup Racing by winning Talladega four consecutive times. The new record broke the tie Earnhardt, Jr. had with Buddy Baker. Earnhardt, Jr. also tied his dad, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in the record...
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. set a new record today in Winston Cup Racing by winning Talladega four consecutive times. The new record broke the tie Earnhardt, Jr. had with Buddy Baker. Earnhardt, Jr. also tied his dad, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in the record book of sweeping both the Busch Series and the Winston Cup races at the Talladega Superspeedway. Following his the GM Racing's press conference transcript.
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HOW COMFORTING WAS IT TO SEE THE CAUTION AROUND LAP 60 WHEN YOU HAD LOST THE DRAFT?
"I lost the draft twice. One was my fault clearly. Coming to the green, we got the green going and I didn't get up to speed. It was really a rookie kind of deal and I lost the draft pretty bad there. Then, Michael got spun around there and hit the wall down there. I saw the crash, but I didn't know it was Michael until I came around the corner, so that was kind of tough. You knew you didn't have your teammate to help you the rest of the day. I was trying to get up there to work with him a little bit. I had made some mistakes as far as trying to stay with the draft and we just got lucky. Every time the caution came out we just got lucky and were real fortunate."
OF THE FOUR WINS HERE, IS THIS THE SWEETEST?
"Yeah, this is definitely the sweetest, regardless of the controversy of going below the line or whatever. To me personally, I worked real hard there today - the moves that we made at the end that worked. This race really wasn't kind of ours to lose. It was ours to win today. I feel like we all, as a team, come together and worked real hard to make it happen. We just realized today that even when you feel like things aren't working your way or things are working against you, you can come together and work your heart and you can get what you can get. You just might get more than you expect and that's what happened today. It was a big surprise to all of us that we had the car that was shot into the lead there with three laps to go. I was just as excited and happy about it as those guys in the pits. Normally, you're out there running up front. The last three races we've won here, you're leading the race sitting there going, 'What in the hell am I going to do to mess this up and how am I going to explain it to them guys how I lost it?' Today, it was fun because I got to tell them how I won it, so it was pretty cool."
ON THE HENDRICK CARS TEAMING UP AT THE END?
"It was pretty neat to see them all running down there together. You could watch everybody's attitude and kind of tell what they're thinking and what they're wanting to do. You could tell Jeff was wanting the'48' to work with him, even when Jeff was running second to the '48,' he just wanted the '48' to be in one part of the racetrack all the time. The '48' just kept moving up into whatever line was going and trying to block the outside run and trying to block the inside run. He'd keep doing that and everybody behind him was just getting pissed off because he was all over the place. When you got to him you just ran into him, trying to knock him out of the way. You could tell Jeff was wanting him just to sit still - 'even if they do go by you on the outside, we'll be here together and we'll work back toward the front, one way or another,' so that was kind of tough watching them racing each other and getting competitive like they were. They had great cars and I think Jeff saw the potential for them to hook up and work together and win this race together, and I don't think Jimmie actually saw that or understood that.
"But, the '5' car was pretty good. The '25' was pretty good. But, I think there were only four or five cars maybe that people will really work with and that is what keeps the '8' car, the '24,' the '29' - that's what keeps us up front. We've got people that decide, 'Alright, I'm going to help you because I know you're going to the front.' That's what keeps us up there. From there on back, nobody really works with each other. There are none of those guys that you'll see work together all day long and that is why it kind of shuffles around all day long. It's got to be tough. I can't imagine how hard it would be to have be back there racing around and not have nobody - everybody's main goal is just to get by you. We're real fortunate to be one of them teams where people's main goal is to get behind us. It pays off in the end for us."
HOW GOOD WAS YOUR CAR...WAS IT THAT GOOD AT THE END OR DID IT HELP THAT EVERYBODY ELSE WAS BANGED UP, AS WELL?
"They were all racing real hard. Now, if they had settled down - it would have been hard for anybody to win if they had settled down and run in a single-file line. But, you would have to expect teammates to be doing that and there weren't really any teammates put together, racing together on the track. Me and the '17' sent each other up toward the front. He got to racing really hard with the '48' and that just slowed them down and I got a push then and shot past on the inside there. I thought for sure the '29' would get a run on me sooner or later, but he never did. I don't know why. They had a crash and didn't throw the caution. We thought we were coming to the caution for the win there and kept our foot in it luckily and they didn't throw the caution. I think a lot of guys thought the caution was coming out and maybe lifted a little bit. That helped us some because I saw that we got us a little bit of a breakaway - five cars or whatever there at the en. But, they were beating on each other and racing really hard. You want to get out there and run and just knock laps off and get the race toward the end to where everybody can start racing real hard then. But, everybody wanted to lead. It seemed like everybody in that pack wanted to be the leader. Any run they got they used it to try to pass you or to pass somebody, so it was kind of tough. But, it gave you a lot of opportunities at the same time. But, it was neat, because today instead of leading all day. We were front to back, front to back. It would be cool because we'd get shuffled to the back and I'd be like, 'Alright, here we go. We're going back to the front.' We'd get back to the front, we'd get shuffled back to the back, so that was fun. Other than just trying to dodge any potential wrecks, it was pretty cool."
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DAD WOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT PASS?
"I think it was pretty cool. When I drove down into three with the lefts on the apron and I had a real strong run going - I had a pretty big push from the '29' - so, I just kind of drove it sideways up onto the racetrack and I looked in the mirror and the'48' and the '17' was way up against the wall still - I think it scared them a little more than anything."
DO YOU THINK YOUR DAD WOULD HAVE APPROVED?
"Oh, hell yeah. Anything to be sitting here, he'd have approved of it. I didn't run over nobody, but I'm sure he wouldn't have been upset about that either."
WAS THIS THE HARDEST YOU'VE EVER HAD TO WORK FOR A WIN?
"Believe it or not, we were at the motel at 5:15 this morning - we had two guys that didn't set their clocks, so we were over there beating on doors trying to get them out of the bed. We were sitting in the van and I told Tony, Jr., I said, 'Boy, this day is starting off good, isn't it?' Then, we came to the racetrack and the oil tank is full of water. 5:15 this morning our day started off that way and we've been at it all day long. I know I've said it all year long, but we've got a new group of guys there at DEI. They've all got some big hearts and they want to win a championship and they want to win a lot of races. We've got a new crew that is going over the wall. We've just got a lot of good people and we've got some people down there that's never won a race before today, so it's pretty exciting for them guys down there to actually win a points race. We've got some good guys that got some big hearts and they want to win. They want to work. They don't bitch about working. They work as hard as they can work. They go home when we tell them they can go home and that's what it takes to win a championship and that's what we're trying to put together."
NOW RANKED SECOND IN POINTS, ARE YOU PRETTY HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING?
"I am, myself. I know Tony and the guys would have liked to have done a few things different. They can see where I can't where we could have done something different for each race or maybe improved our position. But, as far as my effort, I feel pretty good about it. I feel real focused. I've got high demand out of my guys. I hope that they see that is just determination and my drive to win the championship. Hopefully, they give me what I ask of them and they did today. I don't know why this year is any different than another, but it's just time to be buckled down and it's time to look forward to the end of the year. I plant to be a big part of the team's success all year long by keeping things mellow and together when we're having bad days. We can cuss and throw (stuff) when the season is over with when we didn't get the championship we wanted. Instead of doing it after each race, let's just keep our heads up and go on. That's been pretty good to us up until this point. We've got a few new guys that came in over the winter that have interesting attitudes that have kind of rejuvenated some of our hopes and desires and initiatives. Tony, Jr., and Tony, Sr., are working really, really good together.
"I feel like this is the strongest they have ever been as a combination up on top of the box. I feel like our relationship and our communication is just so much better and I feel like we were pretty damn good before, so we've got a good potential to win this year."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE YELLOW LINE REMOVED?
"I could take it or leave it myself. As a driver, when the (deal) is on, you ain't really thinking about no yellow line. Normally, you'd see races where everybody would be blocking the bottom, blocking that yellow line and we didn't see that today. So, we all pretty much had not even thought about the yellow line the entire race. Normally, you see races where the entire field runs right against it and the only way to get past them is to go shove them up the racetrack some way or another. Somebody leaves just enough hole to get the radiator through there, then you shove the rest of the car through it or if you pulled out you got left on the outside and everybody run on the bottom. But, today the pack wasn't that big or for whatever reason we call kind of ran around the middle of the racetrack. The top was actually where you wanted to be passing most of the race. Now, I got that run and they left the bottom open, so I went for it. But, I think it's a judgment call. I'm not kissing NASCAR's butt or anything like that for making the call for me today. But, if we like racing cars and you guys like these nice press boxes, we've got to get behind them when they make a judgment call. They are the ones that are running the show. When they make a call - I question them, too. But, it's tough. They're not in the easiest position. I can honestly say that I believe if I felt like I had done anything wrong I'd be the first driver out there to admit to it
"Another thing - I'll be reading on Jayski (jayski.com) all these articles and for any of you suns of guns that are wanting to talk (expletive) about me - you know where you can go.
"As far as it coming or going, I can take it or leave it. I like it there for reasons when you need it and there are times when you do need it. We used to see races where guys would get shoved down into the grass down there on the back stretch years ago and sometimes you see them races and sometimes you don't. I don't know why that is. Sometimes we can run around the top here and that's where everybody wants to be. You come back next time and everybody will be on the bottom. I don't know why and what the difference is between making that happen. But, if we ran a little bit faster you wouldn't be worried about it because you'd be chasing that son of a bitch all the way to the wall down there. Maybe they ought to speed them up a little bit."
WITH THE PROBLEMS YOU HAD TODAY, DID YOU FEEL YOU COULD WIN THIS RACE AFTER ABOUT THE FIRST 10 LAPS?
"When they first dropped the green, I was kind of wary about what was going on in front of me. I was watching way out there and I saw that wreck happen.
"I wasn't worried about the motor. Richie's motors are all right there together...We weren't the toughest car here today, but that could have been because of what we suffered in the wreck. But when it counted we had the car that would do it - would do what we needed."