Atlanta: Earnhardt Jr - Friday media visit

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 AMP/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS met with media members at Atlanta Motor Speedway today and talked about Sunday's race, the saga surrounding the No. 99 team, appearing before the National Stock Car Racing ...

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 AMP/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS met with media members at Atlanta Motor Speedway today and talked about Sunday's race, the saga surrounding the No. 99 team, appearing before the National Stock Car Racing Commission and more:

ON HOW HIS CAR HAS RUN SO FAR AT ATLANTA: "The track is really in good shape. It's really slick, but we tested well. Real fortunate to be able to come here. They changed the tire a little bit, I was really glad my set-up was pretty close. It's a handful but I guess not as bad some other guys. My laps that I've run even the fast ones, they were nowhere near perfect or good or laps that I was satisfied with as far as my performance goes but they were still good laps."

ON HOW EDGY THE CAR IS DRIVING: "Yeah, the car just slides across the track. If you drive in too hard it loses the nose real bad. Won't turn and on exit, you can lose the back real easy. They changed the tire and took out about 400 pounds of grip in the car, which is fine. I think it will make for a funner race, it being as slick. I think it will be good, we'll see."

ON IF HE IS SATISFIED ON WHERE HE IS RACING AND PERFORMANCE WISE WITH FOUR RACES INTO THE SEASON: "I would have loved to have had that California race back. I think everybody knows that. Considering that circumstance I'm pretty happy having run second last week, that was a real good finish for us. We're excited. We hope to show up every weekend with that opportunity, being that competitive. If we can, we'll be able to determine on fate if we can show up every weekend like that."

ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SAGA SURROUNDING THE 99 THIS WEEK AND IF HE'S EVER LOOKED AT SOMETHING LIKE THAT: "We tested in the wind tunnel and it does add down force, about 19 pounds to our car but I'm not sure. I applaud them for being creative and that's how we got to where we are today because guys are creative to find ways to get an advantage. That's what makes our cars drive better, drive faster. Like I said, I applaud them for doing that and trying to get that edge. Mr. Smith or the guy that runs Roush, saying it was a bolt failure, that was ridiculous. He should just come out and be honest about it. That was unfortunate and turning the blame on NASCAR saying NASCAR assures every bolt won't fail. The guy doesn't even know how many bolts hold the lid on so how can he make any comment on it. I thought Carl (Edwards) drove a good race, he's a great race car driver. Even with the lid on, he probably wins the race. We're all out there trying to get an unfair advantage and you can't hang one guy for it. You can't really come down on one guy because we're all trying to do that. If you're walking around looking at all these cars you'd find little things that you wouldn't like, you probably wouldn't pass inspection on every one of them if you had them for a couple of days. I got to applaud them for being creative and trying to get that extra advantage. That's what you try to do."

ON IF HE THOUGHT HE WON THE RACE AT LAS VEGAS OR SHOULD THEY TAKE THE WIN AWAY UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES: "It wouldn't matter to me because that wouldn't a great way to win one. I wouldn't find happiness or pride in that so it makes no difference to me. When it comes down to it you line them up and you race and the guy that crosses the finish line first is the winner. If you got out-cheated you didn't do your homework. You know what I mean; you didn't do your homework. That's just the way it is, so I do feel like guys should keep wins like it is now. If they want to strip the wins, they have to do it all the time even for an eighth of an inch low at Talladega and places like that. Even though I've been caught like that, if they're going to strip the wins they have to do it all the time. It can't be like a severity issue that's a judgment call; it has to be across the board. And I don't think that's fair for an eighth of an inch at a Talladega race to lose a victory because of that so you really can't do it that way."

ON IF HE WOULD TAKE THE 10 POINTS IN THE CHASE THOUGH: "Absolutely, I would love to have the points."

ON IF HE COULD HAVE BEAT THE 99 WITHOUT THEIR OIL TANK LID BEING OFF: "It won't give you horse power it just gives you grip. I don't know if I could have beat Carl or not with the lid on his car. Did ya'll see the picture of him doing the flip where the side window is unlatched as well; you know that's not by accident. Those guys are learning things and doing things and they were wild and crazy enough to try it. I gotta applaud them for the effort that they made to try to win the race. I myself have been guilty of pushing the rule book and breaking the rule book and I can't stand here and be hypocritical toward how Carl won the race. We got out ran and we got out foxed not only just behind the wheel but in the shop as well. We just have to figure out a way to get that advantage within the rule book. I'm sure that's what Carl and them will do; they'll find a way to find that advantage within the rule book. The frustrating part for me was what's his name, him saying that there was a mistake in the bolt failing, that's ridiculous. That's comical, that is really comical actually and they should not allow him to make those kind of comments. They should have the crew chief get in there and state an honest answer and they would be better off. But I enjoyed reading his version on the story."


ON ADDING SOFT WALLS TO CERTAIN PLACES AT THE TRACKS: "Well, it would be nice if they would fix the openings. Those are kind of dangerous. We've seen cars hit them over the last couple of years and I think that they will. I think they'll fix them. Once they fix them, they will probably put soft walls up more as they start to make a little bit more money where they can afford it."

ON WHEN HE CHANGED TO THE 88 WERE YOU CONCERNED THAT FAN SUPPORT MIGHT CHANGE: "I wasn't too worried, my fans are really loyal. They're great in this sport for their loyalty for all the drivers. Our fan base, they're as hungry as we are to have success and for us to win. So I knew they would be excited. There was an adjustment, even for me. I knew it would be an adjustment for them but there was an adjustment for all of us. Its things you'll get used to, its things that you're happy are new and exciting. There's things that you miss, that you wish you weren't going to change. That's the price you pay when you make a switch. There's ups and downs and good things and bad things about it. I think the fans have responded in an awesome way for me. I expected to have the support and the fans would be there but I didn't expect them to be as vocal and be as positive about it. They really are and they're really excited about it. That's a fuel to motivate us and make us want to do better."

ON WHETHER HE THINKS SUNDAY POTENTIALLY CAN BE THE BEST RACE OF THE YEAR WITH WHAT EVERYBODY HAS LEARNED SO FAR IN THE FIRST FEW RACES: "Well I don't know about that. They changed the tire and it's really slick and we're going around the corner pretty slow. I think it will be funner for drivers to race like that without grip, but I believe it will be harder to make passes. A lot of guys running around the top where there's grip and being forced to run there because it's hard to pass on the bottom. It's a fun track, drivers love it. Everybody always says how great it is and it is. It's a great race track. It's a shame it's not as popular with the fans and there's not grandstands down that back straightaway like there should be, full every weekend because that's how much we enjoy it. That's kind of frustrating. It's one of my favorite tracks, and I hate hearing all the time that it may lose a date or whatever and if there was a way a track was going to change dates Atlanta would be on that short list of tracks that might lose one or get moved and that's frustrating to hear. It's a great place to race."

ON HIS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO APPEAR BEFORE THE NATIONAL STOCK CAR RACING COMMISSION AND HOW THE PROCCESS OF AN APPEAL WORKS: "When I went to get my appeal heard, it was for the curse word that I said in Victory Lane and I felt for sure that I was going to get it overturned because I said it when I was excited. I wasn't cursing anyone or saying it in anger. It wasn't necessarily a real bad, it wasn't the worst case example to set for a little kid all though it's not great to say it anyways. I didn't feel like I wasn't given the least amount of opportunity. I felt like before I even went in there they knew what their decision was going to be. The whole time I was there all they did was really try to convince me why they weren't changing their mind from the start. It wasn't like, all right let's start with an open mind, a clean sheet and you tell me why you want it overturned and then we'll think about it and come back and tell you. The whole time I was in there they were just trying to convince me why they were not going to change it. But, since then and I was frustrated with that because I felt like and I still feel like that that was wrong for me. But you hear guys getting their stuff overturned, like the seven car. I don't even know the particulars, but if the manufacturer is calling in and saying look man this is wrong, ya'll need to change it, that's a big deal. I feel like that in the past year, that the commission has been more effective and done what it's there for. I think there are penalties that should stay and it is what it is. If you got caught messing around or whatever, but they have heard some and overturned them and I've liked those decisions and felt like the commission over the last year has seemed to be willing to look at both sides of the story."

ON WHY THE CHANGE: "I don't know. For a long time it seemed like they were in NASCAR's pocket and that was the way it was. They were just going to back up everything that NASCAR did. I don't know here lately it just seems like it's a lot more level playing field between NASCAR and the people that are being penalized."

ON CHANGES TO ACCESSIBILITY FROM FANS AND MEDIA, HAS THERE BEEN A GREAT CHANGE: "Not a whole lot. The fans still have a great access to the garage area during practice and great access to pit road. That's probably key, allowing them to have the ability to come down here and really getting close to the cars and drivers and see how we work. It's an environment that's interesting and unique and it's good for them to really see it with their own eyes."

ON IF IT HAS CHANGED MUCH FROM WHEN HIS DAD WAS RACING: "It was a lot easier to walk around the garage area. Not really many people in here, nobody wanted to be in here other than working people and people on teams. The fans weren't drawn to this area like they are now."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup