An interview with: Elliott Sadler Carl Edwards Dale Earnhardt, Jr. THE MODERATOR: Joining us, third place finisher in the duel today, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver. No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. Dale, talk about your run out there today. DALE...
An interview with:
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us, third place finisher in the duel today, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver. No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet.
Dale, talk about your run out there today.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We started off the race real, real tight. We've been fighting tight in the practices we've had. Car got real, real tight. Just, you know, got -- we didn't really fall to the back on purpose. We just couldn't get the car turned (inaudible) around a lot. I was having to lift a lot to keep from hitting the wall.
We made the change on that first opportunity to get tires. That helped the car quite a bit. Obviously, we was able to get back to the top five or up in the top five. We still got some work to do. Still I'm not real happy with the way the car handles. But Tony, Jr. and them guys understand what we need to do. We'll talk and practice a little bit more.
I know we can get it worked out. So I'm pretty excited about, you know, coming up. I think the car runs great. We just weren't able -- you know, you guys want us to get out there and run up front, show whether we're dominant or not. But we got a great car. We get our turn we'll be able to do that.
Q: Did you have enough to get up to the front?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, we had enough race car, just not enough time. We got a couple good shoves there at the end. I was able to get side by side with Carl coming to the line. I feel like Jimmie would have helped me in the case if he had to choose between the two.
We might have been able to make a stab at the 38 there. We just didn't have enough laps. We had a pretty good car. We still were pretty tight there at the end to make the kind of runs we're accustom to making on people, having the kind of car we're accustom to having.
CARL EDWARDS: Nice suit (smiling).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Thank you.
Q: Dale, was there as much bumping going on and did you guys take to heart what Mike Helton said before the race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: You know what, it goes back to what type of race the shootout is, what type of race you got to expect when you're running the sprint for 200 grand, whatever it pays.
It's just like the All-Star race and the 600, big difference there between the mentality and attitudes out on the racetrack. I don't know what the big surprise is. So, you know, when we got to these 125s or 150 qualifiers, you're going to take care of your car. Your car is going to push, handle bad. You ain't going to be able to get up on people like you can in the shootout. The 500 will be the same way. We'll make pit stops and stuff like that under green. Just the different race, and it was.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us we have Carl Edwards, second place finisher in today's first duel, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford. Talk about your run.
CARL EDWARDS: It was a lot of fun. Like he says, it's a lot different than the shootout. You know, got long enough into the tire run, everybody got strung out. I started having to lift. Actually made adjustments to the car to free it up and stuff.
It's pretty fun racing. I was excited to finish second. Was neat to see a Ford Fusion get to victory Lane this early. Just in general, fun.
Q: Can you just talk about what you think the usefulness of this race is now that they've changed the format.
CARL EDWARDS: Go ahead, buddy (smiling).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I think that they need to go back to the way they used to do it as far as letting the first race be the inside line, the second race be the outside line. This will be the only race we run qualifying races, this should be the only race that would be different in how they line up the field.
It's very confusing for the drivers.
CARL EDWARDS: How does it work? Where do we start?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think we're all right. I think we're going to start third and fifth. I don't know, the 38's on the pole, right?
CARL EDWARDS: Are we fifth and seventh?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, it ain't (smiling).
CARL EDWARDS: It's confusing. But we're on the inside. That's good.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah. It gets confusing when who is locked in the field, who is not locked in the field, who is racing in. Last year, the most ridiculous thing I ever saw when they sent Robby home after he finished in the top 10. Got to get rid of stuff like that.
Q: With all the "to do" about these orange lines on the track, bump-drafting, seems like kind of a non-story. Do you think everybody was on their best behavior?
CARL EDWARDS: I was trying my hardest, you know, just to follow all the rules. You know, I feel like they made it pretty clear. It was made clear to me that, you know -- not to go under that line.
I don't know, it seemed like it was pretty calm, everybody did a good job.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah. I mean, I knew the mentality was different. The shootout is a night race. Hell, we all came from night racing, banging Saturday night, a lot of money, a little bit of time to get it, a lot of hungry drivers ain't been on the racetrack all winter.
CARL EDWARDS: That sounds like a country song right there (smiling). That's good.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Never know.
Q: Dale, do you wish that maybe nothing had been said at all about this bump-drafting stuff? They're just going to create a problem that wasn't intended to be?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, it creates, you know -- you know, it comes down to, you know, knowing what you're doing out there. There's guys where, you know, not naming any names obviously, but there's guys out there you don't want to get bump-drafts from, and there's guys you're glad to see in your mirror and know they know how to bump-draft. I like getting bump-drafts when it's done for the purpose of improving both our positions.
A lot of guys rear back, just slam you. They don't go anywhere. Hell, if you can hang on, you might get a little bit out of it. For the most part it don't do anybody any good when you do that.
You know, I think the veterans need to stand up a little bit and talk to some of the rookies coming into the sport. Obviously, they'll talk about it in the rookie meetings and stuff. Obviously, maybe they don't talk enough about it. Rookie meetings used to handle that kind of stuff. Get some of these guys walking around in the garage, talk to some of these drivers, if they'll listen. That usually fixes the problem in NASCAR. Normally you don't have to step in.
Q: Dale, a week ago before you even got on the track media day, you said you had the car to beat. Are you tempering that at all after what happened out there today?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I feel pretty good about my car. If we can get it to rotate in a corner, get around a corner, we got a fast race car, good enough car to win. I was really, really tight out there. I was having to run lines I don't want to run, don't normally like to run to get the car to go around the corner. A lot of times, you know, like that first run, we were second to last there for a long time, all the way to the end of it.
We got a better car than that. We just got to work on it, needs a little bit of practice we have left.
Q: Can both you talk about what you saw as far as the debris at the start/finish line with a couple of laps remaining.
CARL EDWARDS: You mean under green or the yellow?
Q: Under yellow.
CARL EDWARDS: Elliott Sadler was slowing down to go through it, I just followed him. I didn't really see it that well.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I was going to follow him. Right out of the corner of my eye I saw I had a car beside me, which was not -- I wasn't expecting it to be there because we were under caution. I had to go somewhere else. I don't know how the banging got going on.
We run the caution. Like I say, I mean, a lot of guys are rusty. Everybody is on top of each other, trying to get the best position they can. Maybe just a little too anxious there in the back.
Continued in part 2