BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: YOU'RE IN FIFTH PLACE, 106 POINTS OUT. "I'm in fifth? Cool. I haven't really been paying attention. I had a birthday this week and a lot of other things going on. I...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
YOU'RE IN FIFTH PLACE, 106 POINTS OUT. "I'm in fifth? Cool. I haven't really been paying attention. I had a birthday this week and a lot of other things going on. I knew about the spread. So I've paid attention to the spread. That's good. It's a little better. And I haven't been wrecked in that race. That's still better than when we started it. So we gained a little bit. We could have gained a lot. But it's not been in our control right there as far as what could have been last week. It's disappointing that we're not 20 points out, but there's a lot of opportunity left. And we're just trying to seize that whenever we get the chance again, just like we did last week. We had a great chance to seize a lot of points there and we're just going to do our best and try to keep ourselves in that position every week."
DO YOU LIKE THE WAY THE CHASE IS NOW REGARDING THE POINT SYSTEM NOW AND THE NUMBER OF DRIVERS IN THE FORMAT? "I really like it. There are 100 different ways you could do it that would be just fine. But this format it very satisfactory to me. I don't really see anything terribly wrong with it. I don't see any negatives. It's a great challenge and an honor to make the Chase. I think it should maintain that integrity. And I believe by adding more drivers, it would take away from that integrity. I like the significance of the 10 drivers and I think they should maintain that. It makes it very colorful here down to the wire. It's great to be a part of it."
ON RUNNING SUCH A LONG SEASON "I love driving race cars, but I do hate how long the season is. Hate might be a little bit of a strong word, but it's right up there. It's hard. It's hard on us traveling. It's real hard on my crew. I've probably seen half a dozen marriages fall apart over the last five years. And I'll probably see another half dozen in the next five years. These guys who are newlyweds and ones that have kids and stuff but never get to see them or spend time with them, it's a shame. But it's a choice you make whenever you become a part of this. A lot of sacrifices are made and I come from a long line of sacrifices, so I know that all too well."
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT NIGHT RACING? "Well, we have Sunday off. That's probably the best thing about it. That's my favorite. There are other good things. The temperature of the track stays cool due to the racing at night. You have a little extra grip. That's pretty much it. The track is well lit. It's quite a spectacle to see Daytona under the lights."
THERE ARE DRIVERS OUT HERE THAT NEVER ADMIT THEY'RE WRONG. WHY DO YOU SEEM TO ACCEPT BLAME AND THEN NOT DRILL SOMEBODY WHEN THEY MAKE MISTAKES? "I don't know if I can take credit for that because I've drilled some guys when I've felt like they've screwed up. But it just depends on the circumstance and the situation itself as to how I react and feel about it and what I'm going to say. But it's really never a good idea to jump on somebody's back in front of the media. But a lot of times, you just can't help yourself. Nobody is perfect and you're going to say things you shouldn't say.
"I was really happy for Vickers to win. I was surprised that he placed the blame where he did, being that he was behind us. You know, it was like bowling there on the back straight-away, with us being the pins. He won the race and he's got a lot to be proud of. I think he does have an apology or two for Jimmie, who had the race - who was going to win the race - at least Vickers might have had a shot at him off of (Turn) 4 - but if there was an apology to give, it's to his teammate; but I don't think he owes me one. But I've been in that situation and I've ran over guys and not on purpose. You're going to have those things happen in racing if you're in this thing for the long haul and you can't let stuff like that get under your skin. I had a birthday to celebrate Tuesday and I damn sure wasn't going to be miserable."
A LOT OF YOUR FANS SAID YOU WERE A CLASS ACT FOR THE WAY YOU HANDLED THINGS AT TALLADEGA "I was proud. My mama told me that was a great way to handle it and I really didn't think about it until she said something and I'm just glad that at that moment I made the choice that I made and said what I said aside from other things I could have said. You're not always going to do that. And I don't think down the road I'll always make the best choice when it comes to handling situations like that, but fortunately for me, that time I did. I was just glad that my mama took pride in it more so than anybody else. My fans have been behind me. They are very supportive and there are a lot of times when it's needed. It's not just nice to hear, but it really, really picks you back up. It's good to have them in your corner - especially that many at Talladega."
SHOULD NASCAR HAVE A TRAVELING SAFETY TEAM AND ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE CARE YOU'RE GETTING NOW? "I'm happy with the care. We have sufficient support medically here and at all the tracks. But it would be more effective if you had the same person in the same team all the time. Other forms of motorsports have that. It's just more effective to have it that consistent. The medical people understand and get familiar with each driver's history, medically. That's invaluable in certain situations. I think that would be a big plus. NASCAR definitely has the funds to afford it. I don't see why it shouldn't be there. But what we have is very sufficient and good, but to have a team that's consistently there all the time that continues to gather knowledge and have that information readily available would take a lot of confusion out of certain situations and you never know, it might save a life."
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN ARENA RACING? "I was interested in being a part of that in a business sense. But as far as driving, I'd rather be home. It's fun. Like if I had one in my backyard, I'd do it."
ON THE LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY SURFACE 'Oh, it's awesome. To go from Talladega to here, I wish they were all like that. It's very smooth. It's starting to get a little weather in it. It's sort of sliding up a little bit where you can see the groove that we're putting down. They did a great job."
-credit: gm racing