Continued from part 1 Q: Dale, Jimmie Johnson said the other day that every crew chief out there bends the rules a little bit. Do you agree with that? Do you think that's why there was no outcry when Jimmie got caught? DALE EARNHARDT,...
Continued from part 1
Q: Dale, Jimmie Johnson said the other day that every crew chief out there bends the rules a little bit. Do you agree with that? Do you think that's why there was no outcry when Jimmie got caught?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think the outcry, there was no outcry because, you know, there was more stories that kind of overshadowed that, the bump-drafting, there was something else. Obviously, the tribute, the three tributes that have been on TV and all that stuff.
I think, you know, a lot of things have overshadowed what Chad did. Guys get cheating all the time. I think what Chad did is nothing new in the garage. That's all I really got to say about it.
Q: You guys are guaranteed in the show already. Therefore, is there any luster lost at all with the duel, maybe the way it used to be with the top 35 rule? Still looks like you're racing pretty hard.
CARL EDWARDS: Any time you get out, open the racetrack, they throw that white flag, I mean, it's fun to race.
I was thinking about it when we were sitting on pit road. Just to be able to race for a qualifying spot, starting spot, is kind of neat. You have the ability to set up the beginning of your Daytona 500 the way you want it. To me, I thought it was a pretty useful race. We wouldn't have started that far up front.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: It's kind of heat racing. Heat races are a blast, always enjoy running in a heat race. Gives you an idea about your competition going into the 500. You get to learn a little bit about your car obviously.
I think any time you line us up, we're going to go for it. I think the qualifying deal, the rules they have now, it takes a little bit away from what it means, other than win it.
CARL EDWARDS: They used to just start 'em?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: -- basically last. Provisionals, 36 on back, you got provisionals. From the first 36, third to 36, inside was the first race, outside was the second.
Q: NASCAR is already working on revisions at the R&D center to the bumper. By the time we get to Talladega, may not have to worry about spotters and the no zones. Do you think that should happen?
CARL EDWARDS: All I know about those zones, I wasn't exactly sure where they were. I slid up in front of you off of two that one time, I was like, "He's coming, I think we're in one of those zones."
Bam, "No, we must be out of it (laughter)."
That orange thing went, wham.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: He wasn't paying attention. I just passed (smiling).
CARL EDWARDS: Very astute observation.
I don't know what the question was.
Q: NASCAR is talking about revisions at Talladega so it won't be in the driver's hands about the bump-drafting.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: They can change the bumpers and stuff. We'll still run into each other with them 'cause that's what we do. You know, it will change how the cars overheat and all that stuff.
I think it's best left in the driver's hands and the crew's hands on how they handle this issue.
I don't think that NASCAR can step in and make any improvements. They'll probably make the situation a whole lot worse for all of us anyways.
If you can't -- if you can't get up against somebody and push 'em a little bit down the back straightaway, it's going to be real hard to pass. Guys just get stuck side by side. If you watch any of these races out here, you see these guys when they're side by side, it takes somebody to push them back. If you take that away, I don't know what we'll be doing.
Q: Are there times out there when you're in this race, you look around and say, "I just passed four guys"? Do you feel you're in control or do you do the best you can, look around, say, "How did that work?"
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I'm glad you're answering this one.
CARL EDWARDS: Every once in a while, it just depends on the situation. There's always guys who run well at these places. There has to be some amount of driver input there. There's guys who historically run great. But sometimes, yeah, you can do everything in the world, and it doesn't work. Sometimes, you know, like today one lap I thought I was going to wreck, two laps later I passed a few people. It's like, "How did that happen?"
Just kind of depends. But on average, I think the driver has a great deal of input here.
Q: Carl, Tony Stewart and a couple other guys were talking earlier today before the race about how it's really a matter of respect on the racetrack, giving the other guy a little room when you can. The biggest problem Tony said was that guys aren't giving the other drivers respect. As one of the young guys coming into the sport, how do you feel about that?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. It's really a hard thing to balance. For me coming in the sport, I don't really have much to rest on. I have to go out and do the job. So you're caught there. You got a guy like, for instance, Denny Hamlin did such a great job the other night, he's got to go out there and make something happen. He's the only guy who can drive that car.
It's really tough in a competition to make something happen and do your job for your team, and at the same time give something to somebody else trying to beat. It's a real fine line to walk.
I know for me personally, I just try to be -- I've been trying a lot more lately to try to be a lot more respectful for the first 90% of the race and then just racing real hard at the end. It's a tough place to be in for a rookie.
Q: Can you size up the field? You were talking about you kind of had an idea of who was where, what they had. Obviously, all the sandbagging has been put aside. Who is going to be your competition on Sunday?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Typical people. Roush, Hendrick, Yates, Gibbs. Pretty much all those guys.
Q: Any dark horses?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, dark horses? I don't really see any.
Q: Is it possible for a crew chief to make a change to a car, like Chad did, and then not tell you that they're going to make that change to the car?
CARL EDWARDS: Happens to me all the time (smiling). Not changes like that particularly.
Crew chief going to make a change, usually they share it. I don't know. What do you think?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't think so. I mean, in a situation like that, your crew chief, no matter how great a relationship he has with the driver, the less people that know about it the better. If you're cheating, the less people know about it, the better. You're not going to tell your driver. At least I wouldn't. I wouldn't tell anybody.
Q: Did Tony, Jr. Ever tell you to cheat?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, he doesn't. He knows I got a big mouth. If he's cheating, he ain't telling me.
THE MODERATOR: Dale Jr., Carl, thanks a lot.
Joining us now is the winner of this first duel today. Congratulations to Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M Ford. Elliott, talk about your victory.
ELLIOTT SADLER: Man, it's a great victory. Sit here before you guys, I remember coming in here, interviewing, sitting in this same chair when we came in here and tested, told everybody about the different atmosphere in our race shop, the different attitude. To be able to come back here and qualify fourth, then win the first race is a great feeling.
We got a lot of enthusiasm with our team right now. We got a great leader who's got everybody fired up. To come down here and to win Ford Fusions' first race in NASCAR, that's something that will be in the record book a long time. Pretty neat to be able to come in here and do that.
Q: Last year, D.J. sat on the pole, once the flag fell he went to the back. What is the biggest difference we're looking at between the Taurus and Fusion?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I just think we as a team came in here this time for winter testing, and Tommy is like, "I don't care how fast we run, I don't care if we set a record or not, we're going to get this thing where you're comfortable, where you can drive it. Even if we look like we're struggling on the sheets, if I'm happy as a driver, he's happy with all the things he sees, with temperature, buildups, things like, that then we're going to be happy as a team.
We came in here for three days and worked only handling, worked on not wearing the tires out, worked on getting the balance we needed to have. The Fusion has helped us with that. I just think the way Tommy looks at a race car, the way he looks at a race, is different than anything I've ever been used to. We got it driving good. That's all we worried about yesterday, not whether it would draft good, push good. If I could get through the corners wide open, I got a great chance of running up front. I just think when we got out front today because of the pit stop, I didn't have to lift, the car kept tight, kept enough momentum to stay in front of them.
I think a lot of it has to do with the new Fusion nose, it's got a little bit more grip to it than what the Taurus had. A lot of it has to do with the new outlook we have as a race team, too.
Continued in part 3