Daytona 500: GM - Sprague, Earnhardt Jr interviews

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE NOW IN THE ROLE OF THE HUNTED INSTEAD OF THE HUNTER?: "I guess. I've got a good car. I just need to stay out of trouble and there's nothing else to it. Those...

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE NOW IN THE ROLE OF THE HUNTED INSTEAD OF THE HUNTER?: "I guess. I've got a good car. I just need to stay out of trouble and there's nothing else to it. Those other guys are going to race their race and I'm going to race my race, and hopefully we'll end up in victory lane. We're going to do everything we can."

WITH TWO MORE PRACTICES, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR CAR BETTER, OR IS IT AS GOOD AS IT GETS? "No, it always can get better. There's just little things I'd like the car to do that it doesn't do right now. We've got to find out why and try and fix that. There's just little things you can try to try and improve the car, so we've got a few more runs to make."

HAS THE RICK MAST SITUATION OPENED YOUR EYES TO THE CARBON MONOXIDE SITUATION? "Yea, it's opened a lot of light on the subject. It's made us more aware of the seriousness of it. I mean, a lot of drivers suffer from poisoning year after year from certain races or crashes, and it's definitely not a lot of fun, and I guess we had no idea of the long-term effects. I think now we're starting to understand that a little bit. Hopefully Rick's situation will continue to shed even more light on it and help us understand more. It's a real classy move on his part to try and help NASCAR out to try and understand what exactly he's going through and how to prevent it from happening to other drivers.

IS IT IMPORTANT TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500 TO HAVE A GOOD SEASON? "I don't know what it does for you the rest of the season. Normally, statistics say that the winner of the Daytona 500 doesn't do good well the rest of the season, but statistics also say that the guy that wins the Budweiser Shootout and his Twin 125 has a great year, so I don't know what to tell you. Hopefully we can just win it all and not worry about it, we'll just try and keep our heads on straight.

JACK SPRAGUE, NO. 0 NETZERO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

NOTE: NASCAR Winston Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Jack Sprague finished 13th in the second Twin 125 qualifier yesterday and the three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion will start 26th in Sunday' s Daytona 500.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO SUNDAY AFTER RUNNING IN THE TWIN 125s? "Just finish. That's all I'm focusing on is just run the whole race, 500 miles, and stay out of trouble and finish the race. WHAT

HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE IN RUNNING IN WINSTON CUP AND SOME OF THE OTHER SERIES YOU'VE RACED? "These guys cut you a lot less slack - I figured that out a few days ago. The thing I probably didn't understand the most was there was like eight or 10 laps to go, and there was 13 of us lined up in a straight-arrow line driving away from Bobby Labonte with nobody else behind him, everybody's in the race, and they start racing. I was like, 'Oh man, I don't need to get caught. But fortunately we didn't get caught. Bobby caught us, but nobody else did, and it all worked out all right. But these guys are the best in the world. They know where they're going, where they' re driving and what they're doing, but by the same token they don't cut you a whole lot of slack, and aren't expected to. But it was a lot of fun and a big relief. Everybody seems to be okay and nobody got hurt, and that's the most important thing."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte