DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: DO YOU SEE AN RCR, DEI FACE-OFF ON SUNDAY? "I'm sure that's what I'll read in "It looks like Jeff (Green) has a strong, strong car. I saw a lot of that in practice the other day after...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
DO YOU SEE AN RCR, DEI FACE-OFF ON SUNDAY? "I'm sure that's what I'll read in "It looks like Jeff (Green) has a strong, strong car. I saw a lot of that in practice the other day after qualifying. I didn't expect them to be able to back it up in race trim like they did their qualifying efforts. They normally haven't been strong, strong contenders. But, he was real fast, so I was really expecting him to lead and do well. I was surprised the '31' won the race. I expected somebody else to win the race."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT SWEEPING THE WEEK? "I thought somebody had already done that. It seems like to me every time we do something good it stacks the odds against us even worse to win the '500.' I feel like we've got as good a chance as anybody else and I hope we win it. The Busch car is really good. We've got a competitive Busch car. We didn't come down here and dominate like everybody expected us to do from our test session. But, I think we've got a good car. We can do well in that race and do well in the '500.' The '500' is all about parity and trying not be part of it. A lot of things happen while you're out there running. It's a long, long race. It seems like it's probably the longest race of the season and it has so many parts to it. There are sections to each race that are defining moments in the outcome. The guys that I saw up front last year, I didn't expect them to be contenders, so I'm going to try to figure out what the equation is to end up up front. But, it ain't just 'run your ass off,' I'll tell you that. It's play it smart and stay in a good, safe position and don't tear your car off. Don't race on and off pit road as hard as you can for a spot. Why do you want to tear a brake caliper off just to beat somebody down pit road? Stupid stuff like that happens and that is when it happens. It doesn't happen in practice or qualifying. It happens in the race. When something stupid like that is going to bite you, that's when it's going to happen. You've just got to be patient and I think we've got a good chance. If we win it, we win it. It would be great.
"I want to win anything I'm competing in. I'm a terrible loser. I'm competitive in everything. I was disappointed we didn't get the pole, especially to get beat by Jeff Green, who wasn't somebody you expected to get beat by. Congratulations to him - nothing against or taken away from him. But, that's just my competitiveness. We go into the '500' being the favorite to win the race and somebody who is going to get a lot of exposure in the first, early portions of the race and we just want to be able to back it up. We're in a good position. We're in a good position to win.
"I want to win the Busch race and the Cup race. We spent an awful lot of money to come down and try to run second."
IS THIS YOUR RACE TO LOSE? "We lost it last year. It was our race to lose last year. We ran over something that came out from under Michael's car. There is not much you can do about that. I can't say I knew it was coming. It's just so weird. Everybody puts so much emphasis on this race and you talk about the favorite to win. It's not easy to win it. You're singling out one event that you'll run 20, 30 times, maybe, in a full career. What are the chances that you're going to win the race with everything that can happen in 500 miles? That's like saying, 'Before my career is over I'm not going to be satisfied unless I win at Watkins Glen?'
"What are the odds there? You really stacking yourself up against some pretty strong odds. I realize that reality. But, again, I know our potential. We can win this race. We go in there with a good attitude and we go in there and make good pit stops and I take it easy on the car, no matter whether I'm pitting or drafting or side by side or three wide - I've got to keep in mind that I need to see the checkered flag. I hope we're fortunate. I hope we get the breaks to win."
HOW MUCH DOES THIS RACE MEAN TO YOU, KNOWING YOUR FATHER'S HISTORY HERE? "It means as much to me. The strange thing about it for me, though is that I have a chance to win it so early and dad came in for years and years. He had a great car when he ran for (Rod) Osterlund, but from there on out he really came down here with less of a chance to win. Once he got with Richard they started improving and improving and it got to where they could come down here and run great in Speedweeks, but just couldn't wrap up the '500.' I'm remember as a kid or as a teenager, I'm remembers how hard it was and, I mean, it hurt. When he cut the tire in front of [Derrike] Cope that year - those were tough, tough times. It was awful. It just ruined the whole deal. But, everybody here can look back at that day and remember what it felt like and you can imagine what it felt like for him. Going through that I realize how big this race is. But, it's weird for me because I've got a chance to win it so early and don't know what to think about that. I don't know whether to appreciate it. I don't know what to think about it. It's like it's something that - you earn the chance to win this race. I'm probably going to look back 10 years or 15 years from now and wish I had a chance to do it all over again if I don't win this race because I'm going to have all this experience and go, 'Man, what the heck? If I wouldn't have done that...I had the chance to win the Daytona 500 only in my (fourth) year in the sport. Hopefully, I'll win it and I won't have to worry about that."
ON THE TEAMMATES AT RCR "I don't have a problem with any of them guys, but they've just got a volatile little situation over there. It's tough having a teammate. Teammates can be good, teammates can be bad, teammates can be worse to you or for you than just a regular other competitor. You've got to know how to compliment each other. You've got to know how to work with each other. What I was upset with last year was how they worked against each other and didn't compliment each other. Jeff and Harvick were too competitive with each other at times. You've got Richard Childress over there busting his ass for all these years to get what he's got and I don't think those guys appreciate what the man is in this sport and the opportunity they have in his race cars."
HOW IS THE NEW GARAGE ACCESS POLICY WORKING FOR YOU? "I've seen a massive difference - a huge difference - in the new policy. They made a change and it's evident. When you walk into that garage during practice or just before practice, it's very easy to get around, very easy to work and talk with the guys. I can get out of the car and talk to the team and not look around and have people piercing in on the conversation with stares and whatnot, and just kind of being apart of a conversation that doesn't pertain to them. It's a lot of fun, us working together. As easy as it is for mine and Tony (Eury) Jr.'s fuses to get short with each other, this has really helped us out."