Talladega II: Earnhardt Jr - GM Top-10 interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: ON CONCERNS ABOUT SPEEDS TURNED IN PRACTICE: "No, it is only two mile-an-hour faster. The only reason why the average speed of a lap is up is because we are ...

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:

ON CONCERNS ABOUT SPEEDS TURNED IN PRACTICE: "No, it is only two mile-an-hour faster. The only reason why the average speed of a lap is up is because we are maintaining more corner speed. We are not going any faster at the flag stand than we have in the past. They didn't change the motor package so they go the same down the straight aways. We are able to hold more speed in the center of the corner, we aren't sliding so much. I haven't got any big worries. The cars are easy to drive. About 90% of the people inside this race track right now could drive these cars, they are easy. "

ON NASCAR POSSIBLY CHANGING CARS TO REDUCE SPEED AS HAS BEEN DONE IN THE PAST: "If they changed the carburetor spacer plate or the wickerbills or whatever, I would like to go work on my cowls, go through different cowls in practice, try different gears and stuff. We have sevens, 10s, 13s, 15s, you have to be spot on as far as the gear goes and we definitely need some time to work on that if they would change anything. I told them (NASCAR) it was fine, it is so easy to drive, it is no big deal. If the drivers are happy, then it will be left alone."

ON DRIVERS BEING SO COMFORTABLE BECAUSE OF GRIP AND SMOOTH TRACK CONDITIONS, THEY WILL TRY THINGS THEY WOULDN'T HAVE TRIED BEFORE: "Absolutely but I am not really concerned about it. If I thought about it a lot, I probably would be. It is just part of the deal. But at the same time, I have a better opportunity of saving my car in any situation I might face out there. So as much as it might create some more bravery, it is definitely a more controllable situation when you are faced with an accident in front of you, or actually involved in one, you might have a better opportunity of correcting the situation and minimizing the damage. They repaved the entire back straight away, that was way beyond the call. That was a really good move and a good sign of faith on the race track's part to make it as safe as they can."

ON MAKING GAINS ON HAVING STRENGTH BACK IN DEI PLATE PROGRAM: "I don't know. We were running pretty good today. Our motor program has improved at all the other race tracks, I know that for sure. We were running pretty good today. I think Robby (Gordon) is real happy with his car and the No. 15 (Paul Menard) of course. I am sort of last on the list when it comes to motors at these places. The No. 15 has to make it in on time, so he has to get the best motor. We are in the Chase so we probably have a pretty good one. I don't know what the differences is between them, it might be one horsepower, it might be zero."

ON ANY CONCERNS OF GUYS WHO WERE RUNNING FASTER TIMES IN THE DRAFT: "Well that is just the guys coming from the back and getting a nutty run. It is happenstance more than consistent lap after lap. We changed a lot of my setup in that second practice and I felt we were one of the top-three cars. (Tony) Stewart is really, really good."

ON BECAUSE CARS ARE EASIER TO DRIVE ON TRACK NOW, ELIMINATING CHANCE FOR THE "BIG ONE": "Hopefully it gives us more control over it not happening. The track is very comfortable, very simple to drive so hopefully it gives us a better opportunity to keep it from happening. Even though I can go out there and run really really tight on somebody, I couldn't even attempt to do that without making contact with them before. It is definitely a lot safer I think. If we have a big crash, we have a big crash. It is inevitable at these tracks with the plates. The crash happens because of a mistake or just two people coming together, the amount if cars involved is because of the plates."

ON GOING AS FAST AS YOU SHOULD BE GOING HERE AT TALLADEGA: "Naw, it is still not there. The asphalt is pretty nice. Three years from now when it cures a little bit and we get to start to slide around a little bit, maybe the handling will come in to play. But there is no handling, there is zero handling, it is just if you were going down two and a half straight away."

ON CHANCES OF THIS RACE BEING AS UNPREDICTABLE AS THE FIRST THREE CHASE RACES HAVE BEEN: "Absolutely, it is unpredictable because of the asphalt. I am very at odds as to what my opinion is about what is going to happen in the race. What is line is going to work, what passing is going to be like, what the draft is going to be like, whether it is going to be two-wide often, single file often or three-wide most often. It depends on a lot of different scenarios and I don't have any answers for myself or anybody else right now"

ON REPORTS OF HIS BEING IN AN ACCIDENT IN THIS WEEK: "I heard about it and that is kind of frightening actually because my friends and family get swept in to that and it is frightening for them. I appreciate the concern in case that happened to be the case one day. I don't know how that starts. It is sort of like trying to find the origin of the universe, I imagine. The only thing I heard was that I was involved in an accident in Alabama, but I wasn't in the state yet."

ON JOKING THIS WEEK ON RADIO SHOW ABOUT BEING ABLE TO CALL JACQUES VILLENEUVE 'JACK' IF HE COMES TO NASCAR: "Yea, I was just joking around. I don't think it is true that people in Canada think we don't want foreign drivers racing here. We are going up there to race so hopefully they don't mind us coming up there. I like Villeneuve, I just think it was going to be weird saying Jacques. This girl that I hired, she is my vice president, her husband is French and his name is David but pronounced Daveed, and that is the way he prefers you pronounce his name. It is just taking some getting used to is all. I just thought we might be a lot more apt to tutor him along if we could call him 'Jack' (Smiles and Laughs).

WOULD YOU CONSIDER HAVING HIM IN ONE OF YOUR CARS: "Absolutely, it would be an honor. Without a doubt. I don't know him and I don't know if anyone associated with me, it would be a huge honor and we would be that much closer to having (Michael) Schumacher getting in."

ON PROGRESS OF MARTIN TRUEX: "When you come in here as a rookie, nobody wants to work with you the first year, maybe even two. He had to go out there and prove himself to everybody else as far as whether he is worth drafting with. I think that has gotten better, it is all about getting help out there. People can pass you if they really wanted to. He has to go out there and show he can do it, drive his car to the front in practice and every time you go out there. It is a rehearsal and it is sort of like a job interview. Every time you go out there, your point is to show everybody that you have the best car so when the race starts, this is that car you need to draft with and you want people in front of you or behind you."

ON PLANS FOR UPCOMING BIRTHDAY: "I am hoping my friends are cool enough to put something together but I think they are waiting on me! (LAUGHS) To decide what I am going to do, but man, that isn't the way it is supposed to be (LAUGHS). I have to go see my Daddy's movie Tuesday in Charlotte. I think after that, I will hang out with my friends. But it will be fun."

ON THE DOCUDRAMA ABOUT HIS DAD: "I was going to be critical of it, if it wasn't good, I wasn't going to bs everybody because that is pretty important a movie about my Daddy. But it is awesome. I was thinking that man, I have seen and heard it all, all the interviews he has ever done and they can't possibly find something to captivate me for two hours and 45 minutes, but I was all in to it. All the footage before and after interviews or during a break in an interview, all the real footage, it is just funny how he totally turned in to his real self and how they were able to get that on film. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I can't wait to get there and see who comes before and after the film, I want to get Richard's (Childress) opinion on it, and get to see what everybody thinks of it cause I think it is great. There was some footage of me in there that I had forgotten all about. It is really neat stuff, just real neat. He was the Intimidator, but he was friends with people and it was interesting to see how he treated people he considered a friend, his actions and whatnot. It was off camera but he just didn't mind, it was either before or after the interview, pretty much he didn't give a darn that the camera was there, or after he got done answering all the questions and it was still rolling and he was just joking around with the interviewer."

ON TRACKS THAT ARE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. SIGNATURE TRACKS: "We just have that one in Alabama and those people don't have plans to do others. It is going to be a pretty interesting deal to be a part of, hopefully we are successful. My intention is not to prod NASCAR for a date; I hope that is not the investor's intentions at all either. I would not be interested in being a part of anything like that because we have been asked a lot 'What about a NASCAR date' I don't want the people in Mobile thinking that is what we are trying to do or what our intentions are silently. We are building a track slightly larger than I originally anticipated. I was wanting to go for a more weekly late model style of a feature, but I guess we are now looking at some USAC Silver Crown stuff and larger touring type series to come in there to race. I am giving them all the information I can give them, what actually gets built might be something different but I am trying my hardest to be honest about what I think the track should be like and what is important to the drivers and the crews as far as the garage and the facility."

ON BEING SURPRISED ABOUT SUCCESS OF DENNY HAMLIN: "I don't think it is that surprising, he is pretty confident. Denny knows what he is capable of doing. It is happening very quickly for him, but I think he saw the potential there for it to happen. I am not really surprised, he has a great crew chief that protects him and puts him in great situation to give him an opportunity where he can excel. Those two together really work well. It is cool that a late model guy like Denny gets a chance. There is a lot of talent in the late models and that is probably where I focus at least 50% when I am looking for drivers. When I feel like I can judge talent, I watch those guys that run in late models and follow certain guy's careers. It is not where people look today for drivers. People like to see it on TV more often in the regional series and the local tracks don't get that kind of coverage."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Paul Menard