Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo Give us a rundown of the race "We looked forward to coming here for a long time. We brought the same car we had in Daytona (Pepsi 400), so we were really looking forward to showing the...
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Give us a rundown of the race
"We looked forward to coming here for a long time. We brought the same car we had in Daytona (Pepsi 400), so we were really looking forward to showing the same muscle that we had there and seeing if we could do the same amount of dominating that we did in Daytona. And we were able to stay in the front all day. In the spring, we had a good car too. It was fast, but not fast enough to stay there. Today, we were first or second for most of the day and didn't really have to work real hard at blocking people of worrying about runs and things like that. And I had time to think about what was going to happen at the end of the race and what to prepare myself for. I had time to really concentrate on that. I saw the No. 55 (Bobby Hamilton) creeping up on the outside and trying to make a run on the outside. I tried to stay patient and tried to work off the side of his car, but that wasn't really getting us anywhere. Finally I started trying to just run my line and finally somebody pushed me back past him. Then we and the No. 99 (Jeff Burton) and a couple guys ran bumper-to-bumper for a while. And then the No. 20 and the No. 18 got a good run by us. And the No. 55 and the No. 18 were in front and I got back by the No. 55 somehow. I set Bobby up to get past on the front straightaway in turns three and four and we got a great run down the front straightaway and the No. 20 car went with me. We got by him - he was doing some heavy-duty blocking. Then Tony (Stewart) made a run on the outside of me on the back straightaway and I tried to block him and we got together. And then the No. 99 helped push me right by him to win the race. I saw the wreck happening in the back, but I knew the race for the win still wasn't over with. So we tried to buckle down. We won this race, but we got some good help from some people at the end. In several different instances, we got help from all of the guys we had to beat in the end."
On Tony Stewarts' strategy about running at the back until the end?
"We ran that strategy here in the spring. We had a good enough car to get back to the front, but only to about fifth or sixth spot. We were not in a really good position to win the race. With the car we had today where we were able to either lead or push the leader, I felt like that was just as good as riding around in the back would be - at the front of the wreck."
On the incredible fan support here and winning his race exactly one year
after his dad, Dale Earnhardt, won it?
"I was really glad to win this race and I knew going in about my dad winning it last year and also winning the Winston million. The odds are against you so much at a restrictor plate race that I don't think anybody could have predicted the winner with 10 laps to go. I know we were a favorite, but a lot of guys made a challenge to get to the lead. But it felt good to win it. It's always really cool to do something that your father has done. That's one of the things I can say that he's done that I've done. It's like winning The Winston. I watched him win a lot of those races and to go do it myself was really a satisfying feeling.
"As far as the fans, we have really been vocal this year in letting them know what we're all about. I think that they can relate to a lot of things. If they can't, at least they know a lot about me. I'm really fortunate with the fans this year and their positive reaction everywhere we go."
Was the wreck behind you a big distraction?
"Well, it just about was, I guess. I didn't think that with all those guys wrecking, that anybody could have gotten a run on us without two or three cars pushing us. I thought, 'Man, we might win this.' And as soon as I am looking at cars spinning in the mirror, the No. 20 car (Tony Stewart) is on the outside of me. I could feel the wind. I could feel his car pulling my car toward him, so to speak. Once I felt that, I knew I had some company."
On the remarkable circumstances of his three wins this year?
"I'm waiting on somebody to tell me, actually. But yeah, we've won three races in some incredible circumstances and situations. I don't really know what to attribute that to - maybe there's somebody smarter than all of us. It's just been crazy. We've come through when it really counted. We want to finish the year with a good position in the points. We still have an opportunity to finish in the top five or whatever. That's what we're trying to do.We've always run good at Dover. We've always run good at Daytona. We ran better than we normally do at Daytona in July, so I guess we came in here as a favorite. We didn't win at tracks that we don't normally run good at, we just won under some strange circumstances."
On the Dale Earnhardt name coming up on the 'win-list' a lot
"When I was a little kid, I would look back through all the books and old racing magazines and I'd look at the winners and all the statistics of the races my dad had raced. Now every time I win, I feel like it's a mark in the books of the sport forever. If I'm lucky, I know it will be many, many years before I come close to (matching) what my father has done. But each thing I do is a step toward that. It's not a goal of mine, but it's just a step in that direction to be one known as one of those good drivers. I want to be one of those 50 drivers in the next book. I want to go down as maybe one of the best; and then maybe one day when I have a son, he can look back in the books and see what his daddy has done in 2001."
Last year at this time, Dale Earnhardt talked about how restrictor plate
racing wasn't racing at Talladega. Do you feel the same way, or is this the
only superspeedway racing you know?
"That's probably it. I don't have the knowledge of what it's like to race without a restrictor plate, and so I don't feel it fair to speak on that. I would like to see some changes made, but I'm not sure what. Now we're winning races, and sometimes you get into situations that are really uncomfortable out there and that's due to the things they do to the cars to restrict them. The ARCA race was a good race yesterday and they don't have roof blades on their cars. They've got a plate. They were in single file. The fast cars were up front and the slow cars were getting lapped. That's how it should be. But you had lapped cars on re-starts today that would keep up for two or three laps and the guys were really anxious to get by them. It causes uncomfortable situations and sometimes accidents. We went all day long without an accident and we've been able to do that better and better. I think each time we run one of these races we are smarter about the patience we need to have. It's still not enough apparently. I'm just glad I wasn't in any of the wrecks that happened today. So, I think they should make some changes as soon as they know what to do."
Question for Tony Eury, crew chief, No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Before the gas-and-go, was there any question about how far you could get?
"Well, we knew we wasn't going to make it to the checkered flag. According to our computer, we was going to run l87.7 laps. So we was going to run out in the tri-oval somewhere. We knew we wasn't going to make it, but we was going to go for it. We might have made it, we might not - according to how much fuel was in the line. When the caution came out, our first thought was to put four tires on because we knew we was going to have a race there. We scanned a lot of people, and finally we decided on spash and go and try to get track position. We knew we could beat all those 12 guys that stayed out there except maybe the No. 15 (Michael Waltrip). That was the only one we was worried about really."
-Team Monte Carlo-