DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS: (TAKE US THROUGH THAT LAST CORNER WHERE MICHAEL GOT PAST YOU) "We got a lot of help from Michael there on those last couple of laps. He was ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS:
(TAKE US THROUGH THAT LAST CORNER WHERE MICHAEL GOT PAST YOU) "We got a lot of help from Michael there on those last couple of laps. He was just right on me through the corners. He pushed me into the lead and I thought I might be able to hold onto it, but he got a run. It was the last corner on the last lap and I wasn't about to throw a block on him in a qualifying race. He got alongside of me. It was a lot of fun....a lot of excitement. I'm glad we finished first and second and glad we got to race for the win. We got a little bit more work to do. Our cars are obviously good cars. I knew we'd prove that today. We had a good practice yesterday.
"About mid-way through the race I was fighting a handling issue. My car was really loose. We put tires on it and adjusted it a little bit. We've got to work on it some more. We fought it real bad in the test in race trim this car is really loose. It showed up again today in the middle of the race. Other than that, it was pretty cool."
(ANY TIRE CONCERNS?) "We didn't tear any up. I don't particularly like the tire myself, but we didn't tear any up so that's good. I slid the left front coming in for that two-tire stop. It held up for 15 laps there at the end. It's a good tire but it could last a little longer. About 20 or 25 laps in, you just lose all the grip. It makes it a lot more exciting. It seems like passing the leader becomes easier at that point, which is good. You just have to get the balance right. If the balance is a little bit better in my car and it handles a little bit better and it's not so loose, I wouldn't be concerned at all."
(DO YOU THINK YOUR CAR IS AS GOOD AS IN PAST YEAR AND IF NOT, IS THAT EVIDENCE THAT DEI IS NOT WHERE IT ONCE WAS IN PLATE RACES?) "It cycles. There was a time when Dale Jarrett was dominant for four or five years. We had our run and we've all known that they've been closing the gap over the past couple of years. It's been more of a challenge to win these races. Yet, we're still competitive. We haven't fallen off to the point where we can't compete. We just peaked. When you're out front and leading the pack in any type of category, everybody else is working hard to catch you and eventually they will. And they have. We've seen it coming. We just have to go home and work hard and get back to where we want to be. Richie (Gilmore) went home for a couple of days. There are a lot of things they thought they could do to help the cars. We're going to install our 500 motor with some of those changes and hopefully it'll be a little bit better."
(WHAT DID RICHIE GILMORE SPECIFICALLY DO WHEN HE WENT HOME?) "He went home to work with the engine guys."
(WHAT WERE YOU DOING TO TRY TO PREVENT MICHAEL FROM GETTING BY YOU ON THE LAST LAP?) "A car punches a hole in the air much like the wake of a boat. It doesn't just go down the side. It's not like you've got this perfect little slot that you draft in. It makes a wake so the air comes off the nose of the lead car at an angle away from the car.
"So there's as pocket back there at the quarter panel that's as easy to draft off of as the back of the car. And so that's what you see us doing all the time on the side of each other's cars and taking the draft off each other's cars and then pulling away and jumping the wake and not run head-on into the wake because it slows you down. That's why you see guys running real close. But if you draft the quarter panel and jump the wake, you can get out and get away from a guy. I knew that was coming. I knew that's what he was going to do. I knew if I'd blocked him I would get spun out. I just did what I could to try to get away from him."
(CAN YOU ADDRESS THE ACCUSATION OF SAND-BAGGING - REFERENCE TO THE NO. 24 CAR) "I don't know what the benefit of that would be. If there is one, I'd do it. We're just running as had as we can run. The cars have been slow. We've changed some things, but I don't know if we've helped our car. If we qualified all over again it would be just as poor. I swear on the Bible that we haven't been sandbagging."
(WHAT DOES THIS RACE MEAN AND ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SUNDAY?) "We're going to address the handling issues we had today and try to come up with a better balance. We changed some things in our pit stops. The car reacted, but it's not where I want it to be. We need to do a few more things. We're going to put a motor in that's got a few changes that we know will help the car. Speed-wise, I want it to pull up on people. I think it's a real good car. I want it to draft up a little bit better."
(ON THE QUALIFYING PROCEDURE AND KERRY EARNHARDT MAKING THE FIELD ) "What I was told is that Borid (Said) and Andretti have got to finish to finish bumper-to-bumper somehow or something. They've got to finish first and second? If those two make it, Kerry's in. Oh, no matter where they finish. He's just got to beat them other guys? I don't understand man. It's so damn confusing. It's the most confusingist thing. I'm sure the guy who drummed it up knows it all. But I can't figure it out."
(ON WORKING WITH PETE RONDEAU AS HIS CREW CHIEF) "It's been a lot easier for me to just relax. Tony Jr. builds great race cars and you see his car today to be very strong. I drove it last year and it was strong. So, I understand they had the better car today. But still, working with Pete has made the whole week really relaxing for me. We talk and make a decision and that's it."
(BY MAKING ALL THOSE CHANGES, DOES IT HELP MICHAEL MORE THAN YOU?) "If that's the question that comes to mind after watching one race, that's a quick assumption. But it's obviously going to help Michael a lot. He gets in a car that won six races last year. For me, I don't look at it as going backwards at all. I never would have done it if I felt that way. I don't feel like I've given up anything or depriving myself of anything. I've made a lateral move that's better personally for me. Just to be able to get along with somebody and not have to take every question and worry back to the bus...... I trust and believe in what he says and over time I'll know more about his knowledge and how we'll work together. But it 's been a breeze."
(CAN YOU ADDRESS GOING BELOW THE YELLOW LINE ON THE LAST LAP) "I didn't improve my position nor was I blocking. I wasn't really worried about it at that point. Are you accusing me of any type of infraction? What's the question? Yeah, I went below it."
(THE QUESTION IS WHY DID YOU DO IT?) "They never said the leader couldn't unless he was blocking somebody and I wasn't blocking Michael because he was already beside me."
(DID YOU HAVE ANY EMOTIONS ABOUT SEEING YOUR OLD CREW IN VICTORY LANE?) "I was really happy. Obviously I knew that Tony Jr's car was going to be really strong and I could see Michael was tough. He had the race won if the caution wouldn't have come out. He and those other boys were leaving us behind. I was real happy. We made the changes not to benefit just me, but everybody. It's good to see it's working out. We finished one-two up front where we want to be. I pray to the Lord this off-season that I'd trade all my success at restrictor plate races for good runs everywhere else. I don't know if he makes trades, but hopefully he did."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS:
(ON THE FINAL LAPS) "As I went through Turns 1 and 2 and I came up off the gas and got a couple of car lengths between he (Dale Jr.) and me and watched my mirror and noticed they (Skinner and Earnhardt Jr.) were side-by-side so I knew Skinner couldn't' just fly up and pass me. He would be forced to get behind me. It had a shot at working and it did. When I came up off Turn 4 my car just handled so well. It stuck in the corner and I was able to just leave the gas right flat on the floor and just aim my way around the outside of Dale Jr. I never really dreamed it would work. I come up with all kinds of plans that never work. But that one happened to. It's pretty cool coming across the start-finish line side-by-side at Daytona even if it is just a qualifying race."
(ON ALL THE CHANGES BETWEEN THE NO. 8 AND THE NO. 15) "This win was cool because we didn't have flat out straightaway speed in qualifying. We had to figure out a little bit different combination to race. The new team has worked out well for me. I really needed something to be different with the NAPA car for 2005. There wasn't any real optimism or any reason that we were going to do like we're capable of doing this year if we just stayed status quo. I'm really grateful to Richie (Gilmore) and DEI for having the confidence in me to put me with those guys and know that if they did, I would perform. That's what testing this off-season has proved to all of us. We're real confident."
(JUNIOR SAID HE THOUGHT YOU HAD A BETTER HANDLING RACE CAR. DID THE CREW CHIEF CHANGES HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT?) "I like a car to feel a little different than Dale Jr. and I got that feeling with my car. I've won here before with those guys who tune on Dale Jr's car, so they're perfectly capable of getting their car to feel that way too. It just happened today with the temperature the way it was and the track hot and slick, what I like maybe worked a little bit better. It is for sure by far and away not an indication that Dale Jr's guys are not as smart as my guys. What we were looking for at DEI when we made the swap is chemistry. Everybody uses that word, but nobody knows where to find it. We think the people we have are talented enough on both teams to win races. And in thinking that, we're going to switch drivers to try and make a better combination that way. They didn't get rid of anybody. They just rearranged us all. I think that should tell you how smart all the folks are at DEI.
"They're on top of their game. It just so happened I had a better car today. I think a lot of times people read too much into these plate races. A lot of times it's circumstantial. The good cars always rise to the top."
(ON AERO AND THE DRAFT) "We build our cars to be as quick as they can be in the wind tunnel and get the lowest drag co-efficient number that we can possibly obtain. Why we've struggled so much qualifying is really a mystery. When I won Talladega in 2003, I qualified 19th. We felt like maybe the smaller plate messed us up a little bit here. But when we got into the draft and mixed it up with the other cars, we thought maybe it didn't hurt us as much. You really need more power to run by yourself in qualifying conditions. A littler plate maybe took some of our power advantage away when we were by ourselves. But in the draft, when the wind is blowing and the circumstances were different, our cars were as strong as anybody's. Dale Jr. and I both thought in testing in January that our cars were as strong as anybody's."
(WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ON SUNDAY?) "Our car was good from the word go. It handled good all the way through a tire run. It's done that in every practice. That'll be key to staying up front. Generally you can avoid trouble if you're out in front. You saw both races really get strung out quicker than normally here. Cautions got us all back together for the craziness. We strung our race out pretty quick. That's what happened in the 500 a year ago. Tony Stewart and Dale Jr. were able to drive away from everybody and settle it themselves. Not the greatest for TV, but certainly a load off a driver's mind to battle two or three guys instead of a whole pack of them. You'll see a great race on Sunday."
(CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE WRECK IN THE SECOND RACE) "The No. 48 lost a little momentum for some reason and the No. 29 spun him out. And I agree that at any point, someone's libel to slow down and it was Harvick's option not to run him over. If you watched it on the TV, he ran him over. You don't get runs like he got on Jimmie without the other guy losing a little bit of momentum, but if you're in the turn then don't hit the guy."
(CAN YOU COMMENT ON TERESA EARNAHRDT?) "She's a great boss. She and Richie work well together. We had one-two in our qualifying race today. And if you don't have all the resources it takes to build a race car, you're not going to see that no matter who is driving them. She makes sure we're well funded to have the right people and parts."