BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS HOW WAS THE CAR IN PRACTICE? "Real good, real happy. We're running some pretty decent times and the car feels...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS
HOW WAS THE CAR IN PRACTICE? "Real good, real happy. We're running some pretty decent times and the car feels good. I'm pretty excited."
WILL THIS BE A TOUGH TRACK FOR YOU? "It's sort of hit-and-miss here. You come here and you work real hard. It's a fun track if you can adjust the car and you go out and your car seems to be different every time. At a lot of tracks you make adjustments and you don't see any change in how the car drives but it's a fun track. I've had some good times here, some good runs here, some great cars here but it's sort of hit-and-miss. I think we've hit on it this weekend."
HOW DO YOU GO FROM THE SHORT TRACKS LIKE HERE TO A PLACE LIKE KANSAS? "Professionalism, I guess, that's the only thing I can tell you. You just go, I don't know. I just remember what it was like last time I went around Kansas and tried to drive the car hard. You just ease into it a little bit each lap, push the car a little further a little farther, and you find that page and you try to stick to that."
YOU WERE DISSAPOINTED AFTER THE LAST RACE "I was just really, really frustrated. We made a real poor change on the last pit stop and it made the car handle really bad. I was just really, really frustrated.
"You've got to make good changes and you got to be smart and think on your feet and I feel like we let ourselves down a little bit. We can't do that."
YOU WERE SAYING YOU DIDN'T WANT ANYONE TO TALK TO YOU ON THE RADIO. IS THAT BECAUSE YOU NEEDED TO CONCENTRATE? "Yeah, like if I didn't do it just right it was a terrible, terrible lap. It pushed real bad, there was a real bad push in the center of the corner and if I didn't hit the marks just perfectly it was just terrible. So I was just trying to make sure I ran my marks just perfectly."
HARVICK AND BURTON THINK THAT THE WHEEL STORY HAD BEEN PLANTED - HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "I don't know nothing about that. That's the first I've heard about it. I don't get into that. All the gossip and crap, I don't bother with that. I just go out there and drive a race car."
HOW IS YOUR RESTRICTOR-PLATE PROGRAM GOING INTO TALLADEGA? "I don't know, you know. I'm just looking forward to going there with a brand-new surface and having a little fun on the new surface. Martin (Truex, Jr.) did some testing, you can ask him what he thinks of it. I wouldn't know."
IS THIS A VERY INTIMIDATING TRACK FOR YOU? YOU'VE BEEN OFF-AND-ON HERE. "I wouldn't say intimidating, but you do have to have a whole lot of respect for it. There's a real small margin of error and you can get out of control and wreck real easy, even in practice. I've seen guys do it in practice here all the time. This is probably the track where guys accumulate the most wrecks in practice, just in practice alone. It's very easy to lose grip on this concrete. I wish it was asphalt, there's no need for it to be concrete."
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT TALLADEGA? "Well, you can get into a crash. There's always a big crash, it seems like and you can be in it. It only takes out half the field or 40% of the field. Your odds of being in that are pretty good. It's not something you'd like to face, you'd rather it come down to talent alone but it ain't always down to talent alone, a lot of different things can happen and do happen."
CAN YOU RACE DIFFERENTLY THERE? "Yeah, you see stuff happen and you get away from it, you get out of it. It's not that big of a deal to go to the back and chill out for a while, you seen guys do that for years. I don't think it will be no big deal. We're all professionals. It should be a walk in the park for everybody."
CAN YOU WIN THERE? "I can win.anywhere!"
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE NO. 1 TEAM OF MARTIN TRUEX JR. AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY NEED TO DO FOR NEXT YEAR? "They've just gotta spend more time in this series. It's just a process of elimination when you start off with no notes, you just got to go through everything and see what works and what doesn't, when you don't have notes. We give them a lot of information; they have all our information but they just have to spend time here. Some teams have a lot of success as rookies but it's rare. I think Martin has done a great job; I think his team has done a great job but they haven't been as successful as they'd like and they've maintained a good attitude. That's real important. That's the only way you're gonna continue without any hiccups is to maintain the good attitude like they have. They run really good. They show a lot of great little flairs of speed here and there but that consistency just comes in time."
JIMMIE JOHNSON AND KYLE BUSCH SUFFERED BIG POINTS HITS LAST WEEK. ARE THEY IN TROUBLE? "Well, last time I was in the Chase Jimmie had a real bad start and he got back into it at the end. A team as strong as Jimmie's can have two bad races and still feel confident in their ability to come back."
HOW STRONG IS YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW? "I feel pretty good, you know. I really feel confident in my cars, my equipment, my guys, my motors. I've asked them to step it up this year and everybody stepped it up. I'm driving really hard and trying to be smart at the same time so I think we're a great combination of a driver and team."
HOW HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP CHANGED WITH CREW CHIEF TONY EURY, JR.? "It's more professional and more mature. I don't know. We grow up. I'm not as mature as I should be for a 31-year-old but you learn a little bit every year and you try to treat people that deserve it with the respect you should, but you don't always do that. Everybody should be a lot better appreciated a lot better than they are and you can never really get that right. I've done a better job this year than I have in the past of making sure he understands what a big deal he is do me and how much he means to me. Not only just to my success as a race car driver but to me personally. It would be real, real hard to not work together ever again. That would be a very difficult situation to not be able to work with him for the rest of my career."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE TALLADEGA COULD BE THE ONE TRACK YOU COULD SHAKE THINGS UP AT BECAUSE OF HOW WELL YOU'VE DONE THERE IN THE PAST? "Well, we really haven't run that good there the last couple times so I'm not so sure we can shake it up a whole lot. But if we can get lucky and pull one out of there that would be great. That's a good track for me; I've got the confidence but I don't know if we have the equipment that we used to have. We used to have it handled, you know - easily. Now everybody is sort of even."
WHO IS THE RESTRICTOR-PLATE KING RIGHT NOW? "RCR, Hendrick, Gibbs, everybody seems to be running about the same."
IN THE LAST TWO YEARS, THE DRIVER IN FIRST PLACE COMING INTO THIS RACE WENT ON TO WIN THE TITLE. DO YOU THINK THAT'S A FLUKE? "Obviously there's something to be said for starting off strong or being strong in any part of the Chase. Good runs provide good points and those points add up. I still think that Jimmie and those guys have a good shot of winning the championship easily. It's easy to come back in 10 races. 10 races is quite a long time, actually."
TRUEX, JR. SAID THAT YOUR TEAM IS VERY STRONG. ARE YOU SAVING UP SOMETHING? "No, I'm not saving nothing up. I just brought my best car. We do that every week."
-credit: gm racing