DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "We ran third, just a couple hundredths off of the pole and we're real happy with it. We really didn't change the car much in practice. I was really happy with the feel of the car. We're...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We ran third, just a couple hundredths off of the pole and we're real happy with it. We really didn't change the car much in practice. I was really happy with the feel of the car. We're coming into this race with pretty good expectations.
"We've got a new tire that might take us a bit in practice to understand. But once we get it figured out, I feel like we'll have just as competitive of a car as we always have here."
AFTER WINNING HERE LAST FALL, WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE NOW?
"I really like running on this race track. It's not necessarily a confidence thing as much as it is pure enjoyment for having the success that we've had here. No matter what position you're racing for - whether it's first or 35th - it's just a fun track to race on. I look forward to coming here. I like the banking and the speeds that you carry into the corners. It's just a unique track. We really don't have anything else quite like this on the rest of the series.
The concrete definitely makes it very interesting. It's a challenge for the crew to get the car to handle. It's a driver's race track. A lot of times you'll have a car that doesn't really handle, but you can still move around and adjust your line where you need to run. You can run two and three wide here. There are a lot of grooves in the corners once the race gets going. If your car doesn't work on the bottom, you can go to the top or the middle of the race track."
SINCE WHEN DO THE DRIVERS LIKE TO COME TO DOVER?
"I just enjoy the banking and the entry to the corners and the speeds that you run. You come to the track hoping to run well and to get a good finish for the team. I like the track. There are certain challenges to it. I feel very capable of figuring it out. Each race has something different to deal with. Right now we've got the new tire. A lot of guys were real tight in practice and qualifying this morning, which is rare. A lot of guys were loose. The cars were kind of chattering and moving around a lot. They didn't really do that in practice. We went up on air pressure a little too much and got my car bouncing a little bit for my qualifying. But now we know that and we'll take that into the race.
"I remember coming here with my father. A lot of people really didn't look forward to coming here. The track itself has gotten a lot better. The facility as a whole has gotten a lot better as far as getting more fans in here with the extra grandstands they've continued to add every year. It's become a more premiere race track on the circuit instead of just being stuck in the middle of the other races."
ON A TRACK LIKE THIS, IS IT POSSIBLE TO OVER-ADJUST THE CAR?
"If you can understand what I was saying about being able to move around on the race track and adjust your line to the way your car handles, (then you can understand) if we over-adjust the car I can move around and get merely competitive enough to not get lapped until we have a chance to improve the set-up on the next pit stop. So, what that does to you is that it allows you to be aggressive on your changes. It allows you to do more on a pit stop - set-up wise and adjustment-wise that we would probably do on other race tracks just because there's a lot of room here to move around and critique the set-up on how the car drives each lap.
"So, yeah, you can get yourself out of the ballpark. But you're not as nervous as you would be at other racetracks about making adjustments. You can move around and get the car to run a good enough lap. They used to have races here where you'd run half the race with only five cars on the lead lap. You don't see that much anymore. It's always anybody's race."
WITH THE POINTS RACE THE WAY IT IS, DO YOU THINK IT'S ANYBODY'S GAME?
"I haven't really been following the points race much except for Sterling Marlin's point lead itself. It seems like from second to sixth, it's flip-flopping back and forth each week. Hopefully Sterling can maintain a good pace to win the championship. Being in the sport and being a part of the sport as long as he has, I think he deserves to win this year. I'm pulling for him. It's anybody's race and hopefully the best man wins. Sterling's my pick."
ARE YOU A TRADITIONALIST?
"I just appreciate that he's been after it for so long and that he's still just as competitive as he is at this point in his career. It's good to see him have the opportunity. I don't think many people - including myself - five or six years ago would have ever given him credit to be in this position. If he does, he'll enjoy himself and appreciate the accomplishments he's made. It'll probably be one of the first Winston Cup banquets in the last several years that nobody will want to miss."
-team monte carlo-