Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo - this was his top finish in five starts at AMS '- Did you think you might have something for Tony Stewart? "No, my car was real tight and his car was great. He drove a good line. I ...
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo - this was his top finish in five starts at AMS '-
Did you think you might have something for Tony Stewart?
"No, my car was real tight and his car was great. He drove a good line. I moved up a little bit and it seemed to help my car and I thought I was going to be able to catch him like that but then he moved up in that same line. He's a smart racecar driver. His car was turning a little bit better than mine. We were getting all we could."
After some of the blown motors today, do you still think DEI should take more chances with the engines?
"I think that if you're going to win championships, you definitely don't want to be blowing up. But I like to run up front and you push the envelope on everything and I believe you should push it on the motors. I think that what we had last year - even some of the qualifying motors were possible race motors. Those guys, they're just worried about their jobs and I can understand that. I'm worried about my job all the time too. It's tough to get those guys at DEI to try this and try that when it's untested. So, like I said the other day, it will take a good year to get it all sorted out to where we can start tuning on our motors and running a leaner mixture to try to get more speed out of the car. But I could tell a big difference in the race motors between this year and last year. And that's got a lot to do with rules changes on a lot of the components. But my motors just don't have the thump that they had last year. I think we can gain it. I really do."
On his pit stops today
"Well, my rear tire changer, Steve Wolfe, had a lug nut jam in the wrench one time; and the second stop I didn't hear what happened but he just said he was having a bad day. And he had it figured out. I told him that we had run 390 laps and if it took him that long to figure it out, we were going to have some decisions to make. But he had a great stop the last pit stop that picked us up a few spots and got us in position to race Tony for the win. Ryan Newman knew I beat him off pit road and he was just kind of messing around. I don't really understand that, but you can tell when you beat somebody off pit road unless it's just a-post to a-post. That's how you tell. I could see his a-post out the driver's side of my car. I got hot about it, but whatever."
Was it a good day for the Chevrolets finally?
"I'm not one to complain or speak out of turn about how our cars compare to everybody else's, but my car pushed all day long. We tried to make some adjustments that would help, but it was good to see some Chevrolets up front. This race track is better for us than a flat race track. A race track with a high entry speed in the corner doesn't really hurt you that bad when you don't have the front downforce as someone else. But a slow-entry corner track like Las Vegas, where you really ease off the gas getting in the corner, you need a lot of downforce. Just like when you race on road courses, you brake hard when you're going the fastest. That's when you can really use the most brakes without sliding the tire.
"It's an ongoing debate and I don't care to be in the middle of it, myself. But I know what I feel is right and wrong. Hopefully we'll get these cars in the wind tunnel after Darlington, I believe, and just see. We don't have a worse car or an inferior racecar, we've just an unbalanced car. We've got too much rear downforce. We've got more than we can handle for the front."
What are your thoughts on the one-engine rule when you see somebody like Matt Kenseth, who changed engines, go from the back to the front?
"His racecar was good. He could do that. He's always run good here in the past. I really don't understand what difference it makes if you're trying to make a point about what motor he has or whatever. They changed motors and they went to the back and that's the penalty. He had a good enough car to get back to the front. I'd be pretty happy if I was him."
Do you think the close, up-front action was because of the young guys up there?
"In this race last year, we had five or six cars battling for the lead at the end of the race. This track always has good racing with three or four lanes in the corners you're able to move around and make some moves on guys. You're not stuck behind them until they make a mistake. You can make an attempt to pass a guy on almost every corner. I think that has a lot to do with it. I love racing here and they can make more of these tracks."
"Darlington is a tough racetrack for me. I almost had a good finish there last year but we got involved in a wreck with about two laps to go. That was when NASCAR was testing the waters with the red flag at the end of the race. It's tough to go in there with a positive attitude for me. But you just know what you're getting yourself into every time you go there. It's a struggle to keep the car on the racetrack and it wears the tires out. I'm really inexperienced compared to most of these guys I'm racing against when it comes to Darlington and that really hurts me as far as having a good finish every weekend. It's so easy to get fed up and give up on the racecar there and that happens quite often with me."
What caused you to move toward the back?
"That was pit stops. We had a fifth place, or better, racecar all day long. I don't think we fell any further back than fifth during our green flag pit stops and our racing. We came out tenth one time and eighth another time. My car was really awesome on new tires and I was able to pick off two or three spots in the first three laps. That's when you've got to do it."
There was a new record set with the number of lead changes today - was it fun out there?
It's always fun racing here. We're always racing and passing each other - more so here than other racetracks. I didn't know that there was a record broken."
Is your season on track?
"No, we just don't run good at Rockingham for some reason. And it's the same at Darlington. I just seem to have trouble getting it around the race track there. I take full credit for how we finish there. We pushed all day at Vegas and couldn't get the car to turn. We're not where we need to be in points. As far as the race team and how we do our job, we're happy with that and feel like its championship material. But we just can't seem to get off the trailer fast. We need to work on our set-ups for these flat tracks."