DALE EARNHARDT JR. , NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO Note: This was Junior's 5th victory in 10 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway and his 5th season victory. It also marked the 12th consecutive time a Chevrolet has won at Talladega...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. , NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Note: This was Junior's 5th victory in 10 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway and his 5th season victory. It also marked the 12th consecutive time a Chevrolet has won at Talladega - Chevy now has 28 victories at this track (1972 - present).
TAKE US THROUGH SOME OF THE KEY MOVES THAT LED TO YOUR SUCCESS TODAY
"I can't recall really. There was a lot of moving around there at the end of the race and good pushes from different people. Ricky Rudd helped me a lot getting to the lead. And then the No. 20 (Tony Stewart) helped me a bunch. It was just crazy there at the end trying not to get too crazy. There was just a lot of racing around. We had new tires on the right side and my car was a little faster than them guys in front of me that had used tires. We had a good car all weekend. I still don't know if it's as good as that one at Daytona USA, but it's still good."
WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD ON THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS?
"Well, that's such a general question that it would take me a good hour to answer it. There is just a lot of different stuff. The cars are really good. The motors are really great. When you mash the gas and it goes where you want it to go, that's all you can ask of the car. I just like driving the car. I like coming here. I think my attitude has a lot to do with it. I'm just having a lot of fun."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT TWO RIGHT-SIDE TIRES LED TO YOUR WIN TODAY?
"No, I'm not surprised really. When I was going around those guys I saw them struggling. I knew what the cars drove like. There was a big difference between my car and their cars with the tires I had. It was a huge difference. Michael (Waltrip) had four and I was expecting him to come up through there. But there wasn't that much time at the end and you had to make the perfect moves - the right moves at the right times to get there. I don't think I'd have won the race if I had not put tires on. Tony Stewart had tires and a couple of the other guys back there did, and they were coming."
WHEN YOU WERE RIDING 24TH UNDER CAUTION WITH 10 TO GO, WHAT DO YOU TELL YOURSELF?
"Well you start beating on the (radio) button asking your crew how the hell I got back here. You run hard all day long and you try to be up front all day long and the next thing you know the sequence gets crazy and you end up there. I knew a bunch of guys in front of us were pitting so it wasn't that big of a deal."
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU WERE TOLD YOU WERE ONLY GOING TO TAKE TWO TIRES?
"What goes through my mind is that the guys behind me that I'm coming down pit road with are going to beat me out. Other than that, nothing. I've got tires and they don't. So it kind of equals out. It's hard sometimes. When we get shuffled back, it's hard to get back to the front. I just had to hope that I could."
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WERE ON THE RESTART WITH THE GREEN FLAG?
"I think I was 7th or 10th or 11th. I'm telling you that I know it sucks that I can't give it to you word by word, but it all happens so fast that you can't store it."
DO YOU THINK YOUR LANGUAGE WHILE BEING INTERVIEWED IN VICTORY CIRCLE MIGHT AFFECT YOUR POINT STANDINGS?
"Johnny Sauter said it in a fit of anger. I said it in Victory Lane. Do you want the commercial of Matt (Kenseth) being a robot to come to fruition? If anybody was offended by the four-letter word I said - which, in my book, I think (George) Carlin said it was one of the ones you could say - I can't imagine why they would have tuned into a race in the first place. But there were a lot of hand gestures going on during the race and that was pretty weak compared to what we're doing on the race track. I hope they understand that it was in jubilation and I know me and those other guys that got fined let it slip, but it's two different circumstances. I think that when you're happy and joyous about something and it happens, I think it's different than being angry and cursing in anger. Of course we don't want to promote that. But if a guy is in Victory Lane jumping up and down and let's a 'sh-' slip out, I don't think that's something we need go hammering down on."
DURING THE LAST LAP, WERE YOU AWARE OF THE WRECKING GOING ON BEHIND YOU?
"I did see it going down the back straightaway. I watched the last two laps in the mirror. I saw a car go into the grass on the back straightaway. I personally didn't know what to think about that or what the rule was - whether to keep racing or not because I don't know where the lights are. So I just held it to the mat. And then we came around again and I saw almost the same thing in the mirror again. I'm asking a question here: If it comes out on the back straightaway, is the race over or do they do a green-white-checkered? It's over?
"Okay, if you take the white then I guess it really doesn't matter to me. If that's the case then, we got it slowed down. All our spotters were on the radios telling us about the cars on the back straightaway and that we've got ambulances out there so to slow down. On a big track like this I guess you can get away with that. At other tracks, maybe I'm not so sure."
ON HIS POINTS LEAD
"I'm real excited about the points lead. There's a lot of racing left. We've put some distance between us and the 5th place guy, so we keep on narrowing it down a little bit. It's still anybody's race, I think. It's hard to imagine that any of us would go through the 10 races without a Mulligan, you know? It's hard to believe. Somebody might do it. But I don't know if we're that good. I think we're going to have a race where we end up being the one who needs a back-up car. It's hard to say."
WAS THE RACING A WILD AS IT USUALLY IS?
"It was pretty crazy there. There should have been a lot of wrecks. I saw some stuff happening when a couple of guys were bouncing off each other and there were some close calls. It's always the same old people though. I told my brother (Kerry) before the race not to do anything crazy or to get three-wide. He said oh I'm not I'm not. And I said not to play with people that do either. You've got to remember who you're around and remember what they might try to do. Still, you see it out there."
DO YOU THINK THE CHASE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE DRIVING AT THE END?
"Well, I don't know about at the end. Everybody was a lot more cautious. There were some times where you'd see three-wide for about four rows in front of you want to go somewhere else - maybe lift and go to the back or whatever. There were a couple of times when I just lifted and regrouped and then got another run with someone different. It's kind of like trying to ram a square (peg) into a round hole. If it don't fit, I've got to do something different. If think if you stick it in there and keep on trying to push it up there where there's no room, that's what gets the accidents going. I think everybody did that today. I really started to race just wanting a top 10 or top five finish. With that restart with five laps to go, I thought I could probably get a top five."
DID YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THE RESTART WHEN YOU WERE 11TH HELP PROPEL YOU TO THE TOP?
"It's really hard to remember what's going on. But yeah, there are several ways to race here and there are several different formulas or mindsets or personalities that guys use. I think personalities come out at this race track and at Daytona. We were sitting there and I'm complaining the whole time but I'm leading the race. There is a guy running third and we've got a five or six-car breakaway and it's working. We're moving away. You want to make it a five or six car race where that last stop to gas up under green and then you got to worry about the rest of the field crashing you out. I'm thinking, man - stay in line. Sure enough, one of them pops out of line in third trying to side with second and then here comes the pack and we're all running like hell, three-wide again. And so you wonder what the hell is wrong with that guy. Why can't he just ride in third? But I never once fell into the third spot and rode all day. So I think it's personality. Me, Gordon, the No. 48 - we all want to lead. We want to be up front - the No. 29 and the No. 31. And then there's guys like Kurt Busch who will push like hell for 499 miles, but it's taken all day to have that shot at the win. He's got a different mentality of it. He's not I want to lead, I want to lead. He (thinks) hey I'll push this guy here and I might just get him here at the end. So those guys are racing different out there. It seems like more and more, there's more and more guys who want to lead and they've got cars that are capable of doing it. So you see a lot of guys jumping out to try to pass. I thought it was really cool how we all had the top working really good for a while there. That was fun. I guess the tires being softer this year, it was better to run up there for that particular time in the race. The track had tightened way up and the tires were wearing out, and that was the fastest way to get around here."
"It goes back to personalities. Everybody doesn't have the same race car either. This don't make Ricky Rudd a lousy plate race. He just probably didn't have the steam or the body I had. There were only four or five of us who could jump out there and lead. Now, there's a lot more guys with cars capable of getting to the lead. You're seeing it more and more."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO REACT TO YOU AND WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO STAY IN THE GAME?
"No, actually every time I come here I have fewer friends and a harder challenge. I bet it boils Jeff Gordon's blood that I won here today - or Jimmie Johnson's too. I think all those guys at Hendrick's are just boiling right now. And we are the same way in return, when they win. We try not to laugh in anybody's face when it's over. When we ran around the top, it wasn't like everybody was my friend. It wasn't like 12 guys were lined up being my buddy. The bottom was slow and bogged down. That was a smart way to go around the track. When we run here, it seems like there's a good 200 miles where everybody just rides. It's pretty hectic for the most part at the start, and everybody just calms down. That was just part of the race."
ON HIS CARBURETOR
"I had a problem after the first caution. The car wasn't running right and under caution it was cutting off. If I didn't have it about half-throttle it wouldn't run. It would just cut off. I think it was dirt. When I cranked the car on pit road - I revved it way up by accident like a rookie - it worked itself out whatever it was. After about 100 miles, it was gone."
ARE YOU PREOCCUPIED WITH THE POINTS RATHER THAN BEING ABLE TO CELEBRATE THIS WIN?
"No, I was standing down there in Victory Lane and they said you were all tore up about what I said on TV and that bothered me a little bit. I'm not joking. I'm worried about losing points. If you guys push the issue in the next three or four days, it could be a big problem for me. I just hope everybody understands. I don't know if everybody sees it the way I see it. I think it's definitely two different things when a guy is cussing in anger and a guy says sh- in jubilation in Victory Lane. I was pretty happy about winning the race. If it came out, it was a mistake. But I don't think it's the same. But we've won five races this year and I'm pretty thrilled. It's been a great year for me. And I think at the end of the season whether we win the championship or not, I can say we're better. Even though we had that slump in the middle of the season, I think when I read the papers or magazines during the off-season, we'll be toward the top of the list for a championship next year. I just hope we can be strong for the next several weeks. In a way, yes, some of the stuff in the championship does tone down the celebration mood. It's kind of like winning the 125 before the 500. You're happy about it, but you know there's a bigger race on the line down the road. And that's the way it is now, I guess."
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIS PLATE TRACK CARS
"The Daytona car is better. I think we've run three different cars at the other three plate tracks. The difference between the car today and the car in the museum is when I get pushed and pull out and pass anybody, it keeps on going and it don't stop until I'm clear or in the lead or whatever. When I get pushed with this car, I always seem to have that guy hanging on the quarter panel. I never get clear of him and he comes right back down the side of my car and we battle side by side until I get another push to get by him. The other car (Daytona) would go around people."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING TO KANSAS CITY AND THE OTHER INTERMEDIATE TRACKS?
"We tested two days there. I was okay. I was there with Matt and a couple guys. We were as good as them. We did get better. The car got driving better. But I still don't know if it's good enough. I think we learned a bit while we were testing. We might not be out in the front, but at least I think we'll be closer."
WERE YOU EXCITED THAT TALLADEGA WAS IN THE LAST 10 RACES?
"Yeah, a little too excited for some, I guess. I was looking forward to it but I was nervous because it would come at a time when you really need it. My whole life has been man, when I really need this it never f---ing happens. I just let that slip out. I need to go to some class or something. Dale Carnegie or something, to get it right. I just was really nervous that we would get in a crash or blow a motor or something. I was never sure we could win this race until about one lap to go. When I got pushed out in front and saw that Kevin was pretty close and wasn't making runs. When you get pushed out, your car dies and they come back to you. He was just kind of sitting there pushing me the whole time. He never fell back to make a run. But I was worried the whole time that something crazy would happen."
WHO MADE THE CALL FOR TWO TIRES AT THE END?
"The call was made by Tony Eury Jr."