Continued from part 1 Q: At this stage of your life, Dale, at this stage of your career, does it mean more to you at all to win at Daytona? Is this a more special place to win? DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I like winning here. I saw where daddy...
Continued from part 1
Q: At this stage of your life, Dale, at this stage of your career, does it mean more to you at all to win at Daytona? Is this a more special place to win?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I like winning here. I saw where daddy had two more Nationwide wins than I did, so it meant something to get closer to him there. He's at the top of the list in the record books. It would be cool to tie him or surpass him, which I still have a good opportunity to do. Chances are Kelley will still have me running some of these races here.
Now, if I can get Tony, Jr. out from under the car, he might be in a position to persuade me as much as she does.
Winning anywhere means a lot, sure. Daytona is a special place to me because of, you know, my father dying here. I'm totally a part of this place for the rest of my life, regardless of the history of the track. Just this area, this place. I used to come down here as a kid and hang out. I got to be good friends with Jamie Foster, ran around town with him, clubbing and carrying on with him in my 20s. I've seen every corner of this place. I love it as a town. And it ain't changed much to me.
And the track just has such a beautiful history, so many great things have happened here. To me it's 'the' track in our series, it's the mother of all racetracks in this sport, in NASCAR racing. Everything about our sport leads back to this place, to me in my mind, so it's very important.
Q: Dale, two things. Can this give you any kind of a boost on the other side of the garage? Who actually owns this car now? Would you have any special plans for it?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I do believe this helps me tomorrow because the COT or the Nationwide car now kind of drive similar. This helps my confidence. You know, every time you win and do good, I just think it will. I told Rick I had another tank in the bus for tomorrow and we'd bring it out.
I don't know who owns this car and I don't care. I think I'll take it and give it to Winston Kelley and let him have it for a few months and then maybe send it up to Richard and let him keep it for a little while. Hopefully it ends up back in my hands eventually one day. But it's just nuts and bolts.
You know, I think Winston Kelley said in Victory Lane he would love to have it. It would be an honor, one helluva honor to put it over there in his place at Charlotte for a little while.
Q: Dale, if you are willing to take on the burden that you've talked about with this race, driving this car with this sponsor, with the win or it's not worth it attitude, should anybody question your commitment on the Cup side if you were willing to take that kind of burden?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I don't think that they should. I think people can stop questioning my commitment, whether I care, whether I have the passion anymore, enough passion. I have worked my ass off to get back just to subpar. Are we right? No, I'm still wrong (laughter)? Anyways, to be above average, I have busted my ass. I mean, I can't drive and work any fucking harder than I'm working right now. I can't. This is all I got. And I'm doing it hard, man. I mean, I cannot work any harder.
You can't do this half-assed. You can't do it 90%. You'll get eaten up. It will be obvious to everybody around you, your team, your crew chief, everybody who builds your motors, builds your cars, they'll still stop giving a shit because they know you're not giving a shit and you won't go anywhere.
So you can't go half-assed. I tell myself every year, I go, you know, Am I working hard? Yeah, I can't work any harder. And I've asked myself, you know, maybe people are right, what more can I do?
But this year, I mean, we've wore it out trying to get back to where we need to be. I'm not burnt out. I still got a lot in the tank. We got a long season left. But I got the passion, man. I want to win. I want to be here for a long, long time.
But I guess, you know, people will question that until you're done. I mean, not just me, other drivers, too, I'm sure. I shouldn't take it so personal. But, man, when you work so damn hard, I mean, you guys know how it is. You're working your ass off to try to get somewhere, do the best you can to do your job, whatever it is. For anyone to ever wonder whether you're giving it all you got pisses you off. But that's just the way it is.
Q: Tony, can you talk about how hard you see him working.
TONY EURY, JR.: You know, it's hard for me to sit back. You know, I think when they split us up, that was the one thing that probably bothered me the worst is because I know how hard he's working. I know that it takes one slip-up, whether it's one lug nut, whether it's the guy missed a tire pressure, whether the guy put a half-around the wrong way on a pit stop. That one thing can take you out of a race.
It's not a one-person team, you know. It's everybody on that team. There's 18 guys here every Sunday. Every one of those guys has to be busting their butt. And I know how hard he works and I know what kind of feel he's got. And it starts on Thursday. I don't just start on, hey, Sunday when they drop the green, this is where it goes. It starts on Thursday when we land here.
And everybody has to do everything. You have to have every minute of practice. You have to get everything tried. And it can't be one screw-up. And the communication's got to be there. Nobody's head can be somewhere else.
You know, Jimmie and Chad are great because they're doing that, they're clicking right now, you know. And I know Dale Jr.'s got it in him to do it. It's just a matter of getting every little piece of the puzzle.
It kills me, like last weekend, to go to Loudon. I'm sitting there watching him. He's following Jimmie right up through the track. I'm sitting there working. I get out, Jimmie wins. I look, he finished 10th.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I finished seventh.
TONY EURY, JR.: I said, What happened? You know, Walked by the computer screen and you was here. He's like, Well, I don't know.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: When I got to seventh, I stayed there and he kept going.
TONY EURY, JR.: Yeah. So, I mean, you know, it's hard for me because, like I said, I want to see him do especially good, and I'll do anything I can for him to make it better.
You know, that's kind of where I think Rick seen that side of it, where I was getting too ate up into it, and it was killing my personal life, and I was getting unhappy. You know, so we decided to go a different route.
You know, I'm perfectly happy with what I'm doing. I think he's in a good route where he's going. Him and Lance are communicating good. Just to see those 88 guys out there in Victory Lane with us tonight, that's going to pump them up for tomorrow. He's pumped up. You know, hopefully tomorrow night when I'm sitting there cooking my rib-eye, he's leading the race.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yup.
Q: Just on the subject of the cost of these cars. I saw Pop in the garage area. I said, How about tonight, Pop? He goes, All three cars came in without any problems. So that's what he was excited about. My question is, Dale, is it possible that you like overdo it, overthink things?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No.
Q: Anything like that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, sir. I mean, look at my beard. I don't really overthink too much. I grew the beard back because I've been running better, y'all. Have y'all not matched it up? We had those first 10 races where we hauled ass, then I shaved, we ain't running worth a damn. Then I grew the beard back. Also I started drinking beer on Monday. I don't know. The beard ain't got its own personality. The beard does have a Facebook page, but it's not a real person, it's just a beard on my face.
But I quit partying so much. I drink beer every Monday and I grew a beard back. Those two things seem to be helping me. So really those two things deserve the most credit (laughter).
Q: Tony, the criticism that you've taken for God knows how long, this must be a lot off your shoulders. And for Junior, what did the comment mean when you said over the radio, We shouldn't have won that damn race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I meant because Joey had a pretty good run down the back straightaway. I was really shocked that he didn't get on the outside right rear quarter of our car. I'm not real exactly sure what was going on behind him. But from what it looked like, when he peaked out, the 6 wasn't having none of it. The 6 was going to get up there behind me. So he said, Well, I'm not gonna get shuffled to fourth or whatever it was, I'll just get back in line and see if I can get back up and get a run off of three. 'Cause he still had a good opportunity between three and the checkered to make a pass.
You know, I'm just as shocked as everybody else, I guess. I guess everybody was shocked. I don't know if everybody expected us to win this race, but I sure as hell didn't. I mean, I knew we had a fast car. But shit, man, it's such a lottery.
You know, everything worked out. Tony, Jr. and the motor was great and everybody did such a good job. I'm like 5% of what it took to get into Victory Lane with that car. So many other variables made it fast, got it here. Body men building a good body, getting through tech, not having problems with that. All kinds of little things. You just go on and on.
But I thought Joey would try that. I've tried it before and it didn't work. You just get shuffled to the back. So maybe that's what he thought about when we got back in line. But his run wasn't very big, but it was good enough to get on the quarter panel and slow me down a little bit.
Q: Is some of the shock just the emotional weight you've been carrying just leading up to this week, too?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I wasn't really shocked about anything else. I was just pleased. We needed a win as a company. We needed to prove that we are still -- I mean, Brad Keselowski, an amazing racecar driver, he's gone on to a different race team this year and is doing so well. We've struggled as a company really to put together consistency.
It's a good feeling to know we're putting together cars that are capable of winning. I was so proud to see Arpin up there battling with us. He come over to the bus before the race and was asking me, What do I do if we're around each other? What am I supposed to do? I said, Hell, if you can pass, go, win the race. So he did. He was racing on up in there. I enjoyed watching him.
So I don't know, you know. It was just fun. I had a blast. Like I said, all the cars get tore up. Even if you win this race and you tear just one damn car up, man, as an owner, it's so hard. It just breaks your heart. Breaks the bank, too. So we feel pretty good to get out of here in one piece and one of 'em's in Victory Lane. We're really lucky.
Q: Tony, could you talk about the decision not to come in the pits there on the last caution, keep the lead.
TONY EURY, JR.: Uhm, I mean, yeah, we had -- when it come down to that, I mean, you're basically sitting there with a green-white-checkered. The last couple times that they've had 'em, it's just been a crapshoot and things happen on the last lap. So we knew that there was a lot of cars on the lead lap.
You know, I figured, okay, 15th on back is going to pit. Because the guys that are running 20th, they got nothing to lose. They're going to stay out and get the position. We just decided to stay out. We figure if you run one lap, just make it back to the caution, that's where you're going to finish. Four tires in one lap, you're not going to come from 13th. I think that's where Kyle come out at, like 13th. I don't know where he finished. I'm sure in two laps, he didn't get too far.
But, you know, it's just one of them deals where it's like a no-brainer, just go. If it had been 15 laps to go, you had that many laps on your tires, it would have been a totally different story. But there you just had to kind of roll with it.
Q: Dale, I know you said beforehand this was a one-shot deal, and now you've made it really clear that you'll never drive again. With all the pressure, if you didn't win, do you think maybe you'd think differently?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No. I just think it ain't in the cards. This is it. I just knew before the race, and I said it. I felt 110% sure before the race, regardless of whether we finished or even started the damn race. So, yeah, I'm so glad we won. It means more to me now knowing that I won't ever do it again that I won.
You know, we can all just remember this, squash it, finish our lives, you know, do what we got to do, what we need to do, till we get too old to do whatever we want to do.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations and thanks for your time.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Thank you.
TONY EURY, JR.: Thanks.