DALE EARNHARDT, JR, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed format for the Bud Shootout at Daytona; level of competition on-track with new car; quality of racing through...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed format for the Bud Shootout at Daytona; level of competition on-track with new car; quality of racing through 70's, 80's and 90's to now; racing at The Glen; road course racing in Cup and other topics.
WITH DISCUSSIONS OF PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE FORMAT FOR THE BUD SHOOTOUT NEXT YEAR, WHAT FORMAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE? "Ten laps, maybe then like 20-laps, then 10-laps, something like that. Everybody would be going real hard. Make everybody go for it."
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT IN YOUR OPINION FOR DEI TO GET MARTIN TRUEX, JR. SIGNED FOR ONE MORE YEAR? "I think it is good. It was good for him. It gives DEI time to further negotiate with him for the future and align their key sponsors for the next several years. It gives Martin a real good at what the landscape might be like next season for him. People have shuffled around between teams, but not quite like we saw last year. It could be a whole different landscape for him next year as far as other opportunities. It is really good for both of them, it give DEI a good opportunity to have more time with him to put together something that is a little bit longer."
WE KNOW YOU HAVE SAID SONOMA ISN'T YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO RACE, HOW ABOUT HERE AT THE GLEN? "I like running here; I have had a lot of good runs here and have had a lot of fun here. It is different, it is not quite as technical as Sonoma, it is straightaway-turn-straightaway-turn so you get a little time to get prepared and understand what is coming. Sonoma is just such a technical, challenging race track and really asks a lot of both driver and car. Here, you can make some things happen."
DO YOU THINK MARTIN (TRUEX, JR) WAS CONFLICTED WITH HIS DECISION AND DO YOU HAVE ANY INSIGHT IN TO WHY HE DECIDED TO STAY AT DEI? "I guess he decided to stay because that was the best option for him. I can't really speak for him or DEI personally. I really didn't talk to Martin too much about it or stick my nose in the middle of it. I suppose it was the best option for him and I feel like it is a good decision. They built a pretty good relationship, him and his team. I felt like that was probably the best move for him to go ahead and exercise that option with DEI and see what everything looks like at this time next year."
HOW IS SPONSORSHIP COMING FOR YOUR JUNIOR MOTORSPORTS NO. 88? "Good, we are in talks with a bunch of different people. It is looking pretty good."
DO YOU STILL USE VIDEO GAMES TO PREPARE FOR RACES, FOR EXAMPLE, HERE AT THE GLEN? "Yes. There are certain video games that are just merely recreational for me because of their quality and because that is really the demographic they go after. There are other video games and simulations that aren't recreational and they are more of a tool. I think one of the best one probably on the market is iracing.com, that is owned by Dave Cramer and John Henry from the Boston Red Socks. It is getting on its feet and starting to go public here in a month or so, so I expect you guys will hear a lot about it."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE RAIN TIRES ON THE CUP CARS HERE AT THE GLEN? "On the Nationwide side, it would be a lot of fun to give it a shot like they did last week. I think that Goodyear would obviously like to learn a lot more about the tire before we tried that on the Cup side. On Cup side, if you do that, it has to be a situation where there is no other option. We could probably find another option, but it is a great opportunity in the Nationwide Series to try to learn from it. Being the second tier series, that is really where a lot of things are tested and a lot of trials and tribulations happen. It is a good series for that."
ARE DRIVER'S FRUSTRATED WITH THE RACE CAR OR IS THE COMPETITION JUST THAT GOOD TOAT MAKES IT HARD TO PASS? "It has always been hard to pass. You had that complaint with the old car. When you look at the races that had a lot of lead changes, the Talladegas and stuff from the early 80s and whatnot, it was typically the same guys making the lead changes, the same two or three guys that had the real strong cars. I think aside from those instances and you look at other races, even in the 80s and the 70s, you really don't see a huge difference in just overall passing and guys being able to pull right out and go right by people. It really comes down to there is a fast car, the guy that is in the lead typically has a faster car so it is going to become challenging to pass. I think we still have to keep a little pressure in the right areas to persuade change in this car in the future to let it evolve and allow it to improve. It can be better, but I think instead of being part of the problem, everybody needs to try to be part of the solution. The car definitely can be a little bit better. I think we just need to learn from it and understand and try to be willing to make the changes and see what gains we can get in overall drivability. I think the car themselves should drive better than they do. They are a handful, it seems like they have gotten a little bit more of a handful because we when we first started running these cars, it was mainly on short tracks. I felt like the car was actually pretty good. I was real happy with it the first several races of last year, the forward bite and how the car came off the corner. I thought it was going to be a good deal. Once we started going to the mile and a half tracks and the larger race tracks, we started seeing a big difference in grip from the old car or the lack of it. Yes, we are having passes, but it mainly because a guy is out of shape, you know what I mean.
"When you can't really drive your race car hard, you can't really have good dogged fights for position, you know what I mean. A lot of give, not so much take any more."
CAN YOU RUN THIS RACE ON TWO STOPS? "Gosh, you will have to ask Tony, Jr. (Eury) that, I don't know even how far I can go on gas! It is only Friday."
IS RACING ON ROAD COURSES HARDER FOR SOME DRIVERS THAN OTHERS AND DOES CUP SERIES NEED MORE ROAD RACES? "It is hard, because we only do it twice a year. I like racing ovals. I grew up racing ovals and racing ovals is what I chose as a career. I particularly wouldn't want more road course myself because that is just not my cup of tea. That is just not what I like about racing, not what I enjoy about racing. It is fun to do it every once in a while and to have fun trying it and seeing what happens, but I wouldn't want to bank a large majority of my season on it.
"These cars are not very suited to road course racing as is. It is a 1969 Camaro front end with a 1955 Chevrolet pickup rear end bolted and welded together. The suspension itself isn't a sports car-style suspension. The bodies themselves don't induce downforce like you see in other forms of road racing. So, this car is not typically built for this style of racing, but we make it work."
HOW FAR OUT FROM A RACE DOES YOUR TEAM TEST TO PREPARE FOR A ROAD RACE? "Probably a month or two in advance of each one, we do a little testing."
DO SOME FANS AND THE MEDIA HAVE DELUSIONS OF GRANDUER ABOUT HOW GOOD NASCAR RACING USED TO BE? "Yes, I think so. I think a lot of might have been not so much the competition itself, but the personalities. You know, the Dale Earnhardts, the Darrell Waltrips, the Bobby Allisons and others. We have a lot of great personalities now, but the sport itself has become a whole lot more corporate and a lot less personal in that respect. To me, those guys were different. I don't know how to explain it, but they were just different. The really wore everything on their sleeves about this sport and how they raced, how each weekend went and how they felt about everything. They could be that way, where we are not able to be like that as much anymore because everything gets published and printed. You have to be a whole lot more stale than you want to be. The racing was different but I personally don't think it was better then. I think actually if you laid down two races side-by-side, what we have today and what they had then, I think you would sell more tickets to what we have today due to the fact that there are more cars with the opportunity to win and there is still a lot of drama and stuff that goes on during a races that makes it exciting. I think if you ask the fans what lot of drivers they would prefer, they might say the old guys. I would."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A ROAD COURSE IN THE CHASE? "If they wanted to move Watkins Glen in to the last 10 races, I would see a reason for it and that would be ok."
-credit: gm racing