Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Dale Earnhardt Jr. And Michael Waltrip Visit With The Media In The Trackside Conference Room. Highlights Of The Q&A'S ...
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. And Michael Waltrip Visit With The Media In The Trackside Conference Room. Highlights Of The Q&A'S Follow:
ON HIS FOURTH TOP-10 START IN SIX MICHIGAN RACES
"As a race team, we've just always qualified and run well here. It seems like all those tracks that I ran in the Busch Series that you run again, I had a little more confidence every time I return. The car drives real good - fast and competitive - right off the trailer. We can't really say that at a lot of other places other than Michigan and a few other tracks."
ON ALL THREE DEI DRIVERS QUALIFYING IN THE TOP FIVE
"I'm real proud of the entire top five with Richard Childress Racing and DEI taking all top five positions. We have really worked hard to improve Michael's team (Waltrip) and it's really starting to pay off. We just now buttoned up the deal with Steve (Park) to improve that team as far as morale and whatnot and give them some certainty on the future. I think that helps on the racetrack. It pays dividends when it comes to performance when you have a secure future. With our team, we were really disappointed with the fall out of the season. After the crash at California, we never did really rebound. We've had a few decent finishes and an opportunity to win at Daytona and whatnot, but nothing that we didn't expect. We ran well at Bristol and Darlington and places we didn't expect to. We kind of hoped that would be the rest of the season for us. This is maybe another step in that direction."
ON MAKING A SERIOUS COMMITMENT THIS WEEKEND
"Each week, you go into each racetrack with a different attitude. The effort is always the same, it seems. You can only drive as good as your car, your team, or how good a driver you are. As far as ability and commitment, I'm right where I need to be. But you have so many poor finishes and things happen to you. Last week was purely my fault - spinning out and running 15th at Watkins Glen. We've had opportunities to get good finishes at that racetrack, but it seems like I'm always the culprit or the reason for what happens to us. It just seems like there's a lot of mistakes I've made and a lot of things that the team has made. You get to the point where you're just plum sick of it and you're going to do everything you can to take yourself out of the equation as far as what might be the reason for the struggles. I'm going to do everything I can to take myself out of the equation."
HOW HAS THE AERO CHANGE FOR CHEVROLET AFFECTED QUALFIYING AND HOW WILL IT AFFECT THE RACE?
EARNHARDT JR: "I'm really sure that we're going to hear a lot about how it's improved us with all five positions being Chevrolets. It's all part of NASCAR and I really don't like changing things mid-stream. We qualified third earlier this year. We've qualified great here every time, so I don't think it's had a huge affect on us. Sunday is going to be a different day. The track always gets tighter and it's always harder for us to get our cars to turn. Hopefully that'll help us out. I don't think today's a true test. These cars all qualify well at this track."
WALTRIP: "Please, do not think that because we're (Chevrolets) one thru five that it has anything to do with that (nose) extension. All these cars are taped off solid in the front. We pull the fenders in. We have all the front downforce we want for qualifying. I qualified second here a month ago. It doesn't have anything to do with the rules change. So whoever leads their story tomorrow with the title, 'Chevrolet gets rules change and sweeps qualifying', is not very smart because you'll have to wait and see what happens on Sunday. If the race is restarted with 10 (laps) to go, and we're able to put on new tires and outrun those guys, then it was the tires. What you need to look at is whether the Chevys are able to hang with the Dodges and the Fords 30 or 40 laps into a run. If they are, that's cool. Let's just be thankful that we won't have to talk about anymore this next year. We'll all have cars that are more matched as far as the handling goes."
ARE YOU TIRED OF ALL THESE AERO CHANGES AND TALK ABOUT THEM?
WALTRIP: "It's just part of it. That's what they had to do. We're happy to get it. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. They've got to keep the competition level. I don't know how big you think next year's cars being somewhat similar is, but it's huge. It's going to save us money. We're not going to have to constantly add an inch and go to the wind tunnel, or take off some spoiler and go to the wind tunnel. It's real big, what's coming down the road. The cool part is that the manufacturers and NASCAR have worked so well together. The silhouettes of the cars are alike, but the styling and identities of each brand are significantly different. They're not going to look all the same, but the silhouette of the car will be close enough that we won't have to go through all this again next year. It had to end somewhere."
EARNHARDT JR: "I agree with that. The changes for next year are real popular in the garage and everybody is looking forward to it. It's kind of like back in '81 when they went to the smaller cars. I think it's really going to improve the racing. But back in those days, when some guy just went out there and whopped somebody, he got the credit for it. When you go out there and whoop people, you've got all sorts of variables that take the credit instead of the driver and the team."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GET YOUR PEOPLE TO WORK AS GOOD AS YOUR PARTS ARE WORKING?
EARNHARDT JR.: "That's probably been the biggest struggle. As far as the No. 8 team goes, we've had people we've need to run well for a couple of years back. We just beat ourselves or hit a wall or something happens. We've got good people. With Michael (Waltrip) and Steve (Park), I think it's just (a matter of) everybody believing in everybody. You've got to get people to depend on you and believe on you. You can see the results in all three teams."