Watkins Glen: Earnhardt Jr - GM Top-10 interview

AMD AT THE GLEN - Weekly Top 10 BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: HOW IS YOUR TEAM? "We're fast. The car's fast. I'm fast. I just got to make sure I don't screw it up. It's real easy to wheel hop...

AMD AT THE GLEN - Weekly Top 10

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

HOW IS YOUR TEAM? "We're fast. The car's fast. I'm fast. I just got to make sure I don't screw it up. It's real easy to wheel hop and spin out and get off the corner too hard and get in the sand trap. I've seen other guys do it. I see guys do it all the time. You just don't want to be one of them guys. You don't want to be making those mistakes but it's hard. You can only drive harder and harder and try to get quicker and run faster laps."

ON THE DRIVERS IN THE TOP 10 NOT BEING THAT GOOD AT WATKINS GLEN: "Great."

ON THE FIRING OF HIS BUSCH CAR DRIVER, MARK MCFARLAND: "Mark has got a lot of talent as a driver. This is a case of where his personality and his mentality didn't match well with what we were looking for. I talked to him several times about what he could do different, how he could be more emotional, project his personality better to the media. Those are things obviously that you just don't learn overnight. I tried my best to prolong that decision and we had pushed it back probably four or five times to give Mark time and to help Mark because Mark's got what it takes under the right circumstances. He obviously has a lot of drive and determination but you've got to show that, you know. You've got to show that emotion to see it, (to) believe it. I believe it but not everybody else is that close to him so do they believe it? Do they see it? No.

So everybody has got this big question mark over Mark and he's got to really sit down and ask himself what he's got to do to prove how driven he is because that's the question on Mark McFarland. That's the unknown. I hope that he understands that we tried our best with him. I gave him the opportunity to continue to work in the shop and go to the race track to sort of give the perception that he's still interested and wants an opportunity if anybody is willing to give that to him. With that said, this weekend Martin (Truex Jr.) is going to drive the car for us which I appreciate DEI and everybody being on board with that and allowing that to happen. That's not just a phone call to Martin.

You've got to ask Teresa (Earnhardt) and Richie (Gilmore) and everybody else if they can do it so that was cool of them. We're talking to Robby Gordon about driving it at Michigan and California because Shane Huffman is not cleared to race those two tracks and Shane will drive the remainder of the races. We were planning on doing a two-car team next year with Mark and Shane. Obviously now that plan has got to be revamped and thought about and worked out. I talked to Budweiser and they've given me the opportunity to run seven races if I want to next year. I'd like to run every one of those in my own car so maybe that's the second team we're talking about. Maybe Mark can run it four or five races, run about 12 races with a second team and continue to see if Shane can be productive in the 88 car with Navy.

So that's really where it stands whether you want to hear it or not. Shane won't be racing the Hooters Cup races. He'll run a few but he won't race that five race championship deal at the end of the season so we're going to look for somebody that can fill in for us like Johnny Rumley or somebody like that. I've got a boy that races late models that I'm going to move up into the car probably next year if continues to be productive as well."

WHAT DOES THE TEAM DO WITH THE DRIVER TO TURN THINGS AROUND WHEN THEY'RE AT A LOW LEVEL (IN REFERENCE TO HIS CUP TEAM)? "We're at the level now where I know what I can do, they know what they can do and we both see that in each other. When things don't work out you really don't get too upset about it and go 'What have we got to change? What have we got to do?' It's just circumstantial. Things happen. Maybe you didn't put a right spring and shock combination under the car to get it to handle or maybe the driver hit the fence and screwed it up or whatever. You just go to the next week and hope that there was a lesson learned and you don't repeat those mistakes."

DO THE ROAD COURSE REGULARS WORRY YOU AT ALL? "No, not at all. I like most of these guys. Even though (Scott) Pruett took me out at Infineon, I still think he's a pretty good guy. Boris (Said) is one of my best friends, not just in racing but in general in life itself; he's one of my best friends. Ron (Fellows) is almost like an uncle to me in a way. He's taken care of me a lot of times and done a lot of things for me. He shows he genuinely cares about me personally and he's a great person, almost like family. It's fun when these guys come around and race, and they enjoy driving stock cars and I enjoy racing with them and watching them drive. They really show us what these things are capable of when they get out there."

IS THERE A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING CAUTIOUS AND TOO AGGRESSIVE WITH ALL THAT'S ON THE LINE BEFORE THE CHASE? "Absolutely, especially here. With so many corners and so many opportunities to screw up you definitely gotta be. you're more erring on the side of caution than recklessness - not recklessness but aggressiveness."

IS THERE MORE PRESSURE ON YOUR BUSCH TEMA BECAUSE OF THE NAME ON THE CAR AND WHAT KIND OF A RACER DO YOU WANT IN IT? "Mark was a good driver but if he run 10th or 43rd, his mentality and attitude didn't change. I don't know whether it's because this was a high-pressure situation for him. Maybe it's asking too much of a driver to get in there and go 'hey, god dang, I don't like this! We gotta change this, I want to run better than this.' That's what I want. I want somebody to put there foot down and go 'I screwed up. I'm mad,' or "we can't get the car to handle.' I need to see that - that shows how much they want it. True champions are never satisfied. People that are successful don't get satisfied or they level off. You need to have a guy that continues to strive. Mark's been racing for a long, long time and he knows the ins and outs of this sport. I just expected him to have more of a killer instinct or killer mentality to him. He's had a few opportunities in the sport already driving for Ray Evernham and driving Trucks and stuff, you know. You gotta seize these opportunities. I feel like he's well capable behind the wheel but that doesn't always cut it. Shane, he's red-faced and out of control and fast and furious about his opportunities. He's really seizing this moment; very thankful and knows he's gotta get the job done and we're gonna put him in there and see if he's telling the truth. He knows the deal know, everyone knows the deal."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CUP RACE IN CANADA NEXT YEAR? "I'm all for it. I like Canada. I'm a big Matthew Good fan (one of Canada's most successful alternative rock bands in the 1990's). You ever hear of Matthew Good?"

HOW ABOUT JACQUES VILLENEUVE? "I don't know. Has he got a ride yet?"

HE'S THINKING ABOUT IT. "Well, he's gotta do more than think. Somebody's gotta hire him first. You can't say 'hey, I want to drive Cup cars' and snap your fingers and there you are. You got to come over here and see who wants to hire you. Less he's going to build his own cars. He could do that."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Ray Evernham , Mark McFarland , Shane Huffman , Johnny R