DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed racing at Dover, Rick Hendrick on the radio with his team, his relationship with Tony Eury, Jr., habits ...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed racing at Dover, Rick Hendrick on the radio with his team, his relationship with Tony Eury, Jr., habits behind the wheel of the car and other topics.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BRING YOUR "A" GAME EVERY WEEK DURING THE CHASE? "I don't know, you know. You show up every week and your car runs good, as a driver, you try to make the least amount of mistakes you can. I mean, we are all real good drivers being in the Chase. The guy that handles the pressure best and not make mistakes."
IS THAT WHAT YOU FEEL IS YOUR STRONGEST PART ON THE TEAM? "I don't know, you'll have to ask somebody else."
IS IT HARD TO BREAK OLD HABITS IN THE CAR? "It depends on what it is. If it is a new habit, then it is easy to change. I am pretty nostalgic; I hang on to a lot of old stuff that I probably shouldn't. I think as far as on the race track, during the race, I am one of the drivers that moves around the most as far as looking for a different line and stuff like that. I pride myself in finding what the car needs and where it needs to run. I think in the race car, you can get a bad habit or two but you just have to be conscious of it and pay attention to whether you are actually creating that habit over and over. Sometimes I carry throttle down in the corner when I lift out of the gas and brake, sometimes I don't actually lift out of the gas. That is a bad habit because it keeps the locker locked and the car won't turn and roll down in the center of the corner. You catch yourself doing it sometimes."
HAVE YOU AND RICK HENDRICK FOLLOWED UP ON WHAT HIS THOUGHTS ON HOW YOU AND TONY JR WORK TOGETHER? "Me and Tony, Jr. (Eury, crew chief) have worked together for a long, long time. I think Rick likes being in the middle of it because it is fun. I don't know of any driver on the race track that doesn't get hot under the collar. I don't do it every race. But, I have had some real good ones you all missed apparently. Last week wasn't my best. I have had some pretty good ones. The Chase is real important to me. My determination has never been higher. Those things are hard to harness you know when you are trying to accomplish what you want to accomplish. You are leading the race all day and things go away and the car changes and there is no answer. That is all you want is an answer. But, I think it is because that I am so focused on this opportunity and I see how good the opportunity is, you know what I mean. So it is real easy to get frustrated when you are not realizing the potential every weekend, because I feel like we are a great team that should be in the thick of this. I don't want to be sitting there five races in, 150 points out, going what the hell did we do wrong. We have everything we need, you know. You work hard.
"I guess, I can understand how my comments are offensive and definitely over the top at times, as you get older you try to do better at that because that is just how you are supposed to act. It is hard in the car. It is hard to remember. I look at those guys and I think they are great friends of mine, but they don't know me well enough maybe well enough to talk them like that.
DO YOU NEED TO ADJUST? HOW WOULD YOU DO IT? "I would love to be calmer under those types of situations, I would. And I was, when I first started, I was. And then I got called lackadaisical. I got compared to my father and his determination. I got questioned about if I quit partying so much and focused and this, that and the other. So now I am on the chip and want it more than anybody else and I am getting hell for getting too excited.
"Regardless of how I act, somebody is going to criticize me one way or another and find an angle. I don't really want to change because I don't want to lose my enthusiasm and I don't want it to matter less, I want it to matter as much as it matters to me. If that means it is going to get me excited when things don't go right, I just need to be better at controlling that. You know."
DO YOU LIKE TO HEAR THE THINGS RICK SAYS? "I think it is great. I welcome and want Rick's input on exactly what he thinks about exactly what I am doing every minute of the day that I am on the job. And even some of the things I chose to do in my personal life. I want his opinion on it, because I trust him that much. I believe what he says. I wouldn't argue with him. I just told him it would be hard to talk me off the ledge. I know he has talked a few drivers off of it before but, it is hard to get me calmed down. Because I want them to get excited. I want to hear the same frustration from them. I want to know, I am sitting in the car, I want to know they are as diligent about it as I am as far as finding what happened. It makes you more angry and more angry when you hear '10-4', or 'things are going to be better'. I don't want those stock answers; I want to know exactly what is going on. Tell me exactly what you are looking for and what you think it might be. Make up something, lie to me, I don't care. That is what is going to make me feel better."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE IT DOWN A LITTLE AS RICK SAID, TO GIVE ENGINEERS A LITTLE MORE TO WORK WITH? "I don't know. I mean, it is just hard to take it down a little. I am serious. I grew up in this sport and I have been raised around this and it is all I can do and it is all that matters to me. I am very serious about it. When I am hot on the radio, I am challenging everybody else to get to that level and get that serious and make it mean that much to you. When you are in the middle of the game, you have to check your feelings at the gate, you know. You really do. It can't let things hurt your feelings because you are out there and this is everybody's life. I take it pretty seriously. I understand what Rick is saying and I believe he is right that I do need to chose my words wisely and take it easy. Only probably because of the exposure it gets, not so much because of how it affects me and Tony, Jr.
"I can't do any better at communicating. I only the car as good as I know it. I am only going to be able to tell them and explain it to them the best way I can. I feel like I do that. I don't think when I get I communicate worse, I think it is harder for them. I think at that point, Tony, Jr. isn't listening to what I am saying and thinking how to fix the car. He is hearing me raise hell, and wanting to raise hell back, you know. It is just the way we are going to work everything. I don't know, I am more calmer with the other guy yes, because he ain't my cousin. Me and Tony, Jr. have been together since we were tiny.
"Since we were old enough to pay attention. We will get older and calmer, less in to each other as far as getting upset and angry with each other. I think we have. We were really immature back in the day, we were a lot worse. A lot more stupid about it when we were just starting out. Just stupid, we would just be spiteful back and forth."
DO YOU THINK NOT BEING FAMILY IS THE DIFFERENCE IN CHAD AND JIMMIE OR STEVIE AND JEFF, IS HOW YOU COMMUNCATE WITH TONY THAT MUCH DIFFERENT? "I think so yes. They have a professional relationship strictly, they aren't family. There is a lot of cheerleading and lifting each other up and things like that. Where me and Tony, Jr. are family. I expect him to be the best every weekend and he expects the same out of me. Probably those expectations are too high. We get a little frustrated. We get frustrated less with each other these days and more so just with the situation and what is happening. There is a whole lot less FUs and that stuff going back and forth these days; it is more that I am mad at what is happening. What is the answer, help me. Do something, let's figure something out. It is a lot less of us pointing fingers at each other. Which is good."
DOES THIS TRACK CHANGE A LOT DURING THE RACE? "The track changes a lot because the caution comes out and we pick up all the rubber up from the last run and the track gets white, then we lay it back down on the next run. So the track changes a little bit. Not as much as the asphalt tracks change. We are back here with a totally different setup and one we have been working on for several weekends. I am pretty excited about it and the car seems to be really good. I am looking forward to this weekend."
HAVE YOU EVER USED A SPORT PSYCOLOGIST? "No I haven't, but I could probably teach him a thing or two."
DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT PEOPLE LISTEN TO YOUR RADIOS DURING THE RACE? "I don't mind if ya'll listen, but keep your opinions to yourself. All right? Because I am doing business out there and I am doing my job and that is how I do it. Ya'll can listen all you want, but if you hear something that upsets you, don't come crying to me or whoever said it on my radio. That is the way I feel about. I don't want to restrict the fans access, I like the access. If I am a fan, that is what I would want.
"Ya'll can tell, you can sit on the internet all week and talk about you want. I don't like answering questions about it and I am not going work to damn hard about changing it because I kind of like how it is. It keeps me motivated and enthused during the race. It keeps me from getting relaxed and monotone during the race. I don't want that to happen."
YOU DON'T WANT ANYTHING THAT SQUELCHES YOUR PASSION? "Yea, right, exactly! I am very passionate about it, you know what I mean? I either have to be all or nothing. I am either in this or I ain't. So every Sunday I get up and I decide to be in it. If things aren't working right, I am not going to sit there. I try to be calm, but if I do that, I normally get criticized about not giving a damn."
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU CAN'T WIN NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO IN THIS SPORT? "I suppose. It's all right. I can deal."
DO YOU NEED TO CHANGE ANYTHING NOW THAT YOU HAVE GONE TO HENDRICK? "I need to be calmer. If I could back and do New Hampshire over, I would have chosen my words more wisely. Tried to sound more productive."
WHY IS NO ONE COUNTING OUT KYLE BUSCH WITH THE POINTS HE IS DOWN AT THIS TIME WHEN KASEY KAHNE WAS DOWN LESS POINTS AT BRISTOL HEADING IN TO THE CHASE AND EVERYONE COUNTED HIM OUT? "Because Kasey's track record this season. Kyle can rebound and win three in a row any time. They are that strong of a team. Kasey didn't give that perception all year. You know how strong Kyle is. We have seen how many races he has won and how well he has run this year. Even if he was 200 points back with five to go, wouldn't count him out. There is just no telling when they could flip a switch and make it happen."
DOES THE FACT YOU HAVE WON HERE BEFORE GIVE YOU ANY ADDITIONAL CONFIDENCE COMING IN TO THIS WEEKEND? "I don't know, I think this car is too big of a variable to look on past success."
WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT A CHASE FORMAT IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? "It would be awesome. Maybe something a little different, maybe five races or something like that would be kind of neat. Maybe five drivers, five races would be kind of neat."
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT PEOPLE AREN'T TALKING SO MUCH ABOUT YOU AS A FAVORITE TO WIN THE CHASE? "No, I don't' want to be talked about as a favorite, just yet."
-credit: gm racing