Darlington Raceway 500
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY SUGAR FREE/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed racing at Darlington, his finish at Richmond, his Mom and Grandmother and other topics.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DECISION TO PIT SO LATE IN THE RACE AT RICHMOND? “Well, we should have pitted with Carl (Edwards) and decided to stay out. We thought, I guess, we’d get a caution before the end of the race but we didn’t and we didn’t have enough gas to make it to the end. So, we had to come down the pit to get gas. We waited awhile to do that which cost us a little more track position. (Jeff) Burton was in the same situation. He pitted a little bit earlier than us and he finished 15th or so. But still, it’s just a missed opportunity and we looked at it and realized what we could have done and hopefully we’ll make a better call or the right call the next time. You don’t always make the right call, but hopefully, from here on out, we make mostly all the right calls.”
A COUPLE OF DRIVERS GOT VERY VERY UPSET ON THE RADIO LAST WEEKEND AND THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT IT, DO YOU LIKE THAT YOUR RADIO TRANSMISSIONS ARE AIRED EVERYWHERE EVERY WEEKEND? “It ain’t whether I like it or not. That’s the way it is and you’ve got to keep it nice. That’s the way it is when you are upset. We don’t always do that. But, it’s just the way it is whether you like it or not.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FRUSTRATION LEVEL AFTER LAST WEEK? “It was high. We didn’t finish where we should have. It was really really high. I think that is where it should have been. I think I should have been frustrated. I know Steve (Letarte, crew chief) was frustrated and the guys were disappointed. It is just the way you are going to feel when you don’t maximize your potential and you don’t do as well as you can. We shoulda done better; we had an opportunity there; a pretty good opportunity really to do better and we didn’t”
DO YOU PERSONALLY EXPECT TO DO WELL HERE AT DARLINGTON AND IF SO, WHY? “No, not really. This place is pretty intimidating and you don’t ever take it for granted that you’re going to run well. I don’t know what my…I don’t even really know what my track record is here. I know I’ve finished ok in a couple of races, but I don’t even know what my track records stands at so we’ll just have to see. Steve said they were good last year, real good; so I am looking forward to getting in the car and practicing.”
My confidence is up just because we’ve ran good this year.
DO YOU THINK YOUR GOOD START TO THE SEASON AND THE MOMENTUM YOU HAVE IS A GOOD OMEN COMING INTO DARLINGTON? “I’m just looking forward to getting into the car and getting some practice in and see where we stand. My confidence is up just because we’ve ran good this year. Lookin’ forward to the rest of the year. Just have to take it one race at time and see if we can follow up.”
DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE THIS WEEK TO REBOUND? “Yes, potentially, yea it does. But, as soon as we got done with the race at Richmond, I was anxious to get to the race track and do something good just to get that out of our system. It was hard to get over what happened last week, it bothered me all week long and just couldn’t wait to get to the race track to do something good to turn it around and feel like we get back on the track we were on. We’re on such a good track there throughout the first part of the year here and that kinda of a deal there just really gets to you. You just want to get to the track and do something to get it back like it was.”
IF IT CAME DOWN AGAIN TO THE SAME SITUATION, WOULD YOU RATHER JUST TAKE THE POINTS TO KEEP UP YOUR CONSISTENT ROLL RATHER THAN GAMBLE FOR WIN ON THE FUEL MILEAGE? “It depends upon the circumstances. There was a couple of cars there that I don’t think anybody was going to out-run. We really had an opportunity to be up around the front. I mean, we’d stayed out and got track positions; stuff like that. We were out of sequence and when you come into your pit window, common sense says come in and get fuel to finish the race. But that’s what we’ll do. That’s what you should do every time and that’s what we’ll do. You can’t gamble on NASCAR throwing a caution at end of all the races like you normally see. They didn’t do it last week, so we had to…you know, you can’t get yourself out there pitting like that. I mean, that’s….we just didn’t think it would go green all the way to the end. The cautions were starting to come out. The race was starting to pick up more cautions and you expect the intensity to start picking up and the caution to be there for you at the end of the race. They just weren’t.”
DID YOU EXPRESS THAT TO STEVE? “I think he knew it already. I mean, I think he was pretty sharp on picking up what went down. We just talked it out. That was a good conversation we had. I figured we had it and settled it between us before we left the race track which I liked. That was good. We didn’t have any…I was upset how we finished. He was. He took a lot of the responsibility. But, we’re a team and we race together and I believe in his decision at the time we made it and I would do the same thing again if he told me to stay out. I might have a different opinion about it after the fact, but, we work together and we believe in each other. It shouldn’t hold us back as far as that all went down. That shouldn’t be a problem.”
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MOM ON MOTHER’S DAY? “I got her some gifts last week when we were at Richmond. We’re just going to hang out together out by the pool and drink a couple beers I guess.”
My Ma-Maw (grandmother), she’s got a lot of knowledge about the sport and what it takes to be involved to be involved in the sport...
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRENGTH OF YOUR GRANDMOTHER MARTHA IN THE FAMILY? “Any wife, girlfriend…this business is pretty hard on them, makes them pretty tough. You stick it out. You’ll be pretty tough by the end of it. My Ma-Maw (grandmother), she’s got a lot of knowledge about the sport and what it takes to be involved to be involved in the sport; what she went through. You just have to respect somebody like that. You have a ton of respect for somebody like that. To see and done everything she’s done; witnessed everything she has witnessed from her husband Ralph and her son, all of her sons. I’m sure they all put her through equal amounts of trouble and stress. She enjoying the fruits of all that now with all the grandkids and everybody, hopefully for many years to come.”
HOW DO YOU THINK WINS IS GOING TO INFLUENCE THINGS ON TRACK AS THE SEASON GOES ON, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE OUT OF THE TOP-10? WILL DRIVERS BE GOING OUT THERE FOR WINS WHEN BEFORE THEY MIGHT HAVE SETTLED FOR FIFTH? “It won’t make a difference. We go out here every week and we race as hard as we can and finish as good as we can. We’ve done that for years and that is the way it will be. That’s not how we did it before; we never settled for fifth. You ran fifth because you couldn’t run fourth. You are going to start making me cuss. I almost cussed right there. Everybody thinks we are out there saying ‘Oh, this is good; I’ll take this’. That’s not what we were doing. Everybody is running as hard as they could run, man. Been doing that for years. That bugs the hell out of me when everybody thinks you go out there to run; you get out there and you get into to fifth or whatever….second or third and you take it. You ain’t going to take it man, you just got your ass beat was all it was; by four or five other guys.”
WHAT IS THE FRUSTRATION FOR YOU WHEN YOU GAMBLE ON THINGS WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE WHERE AS IF YOU ARE IN THE POINTS CHASE AND YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE ANY? “Yeah. I mean, when it comes down to it now…in the last five races leading up to the Chase, you might see some questionable gambles, you know, guys staying out, taking two tires, whatever to get the points that they got to have, you know, that they got to have. I don’t think you will see those kinds of gambles until then.”
YOU REALLY DRINK BEER WITH YOUR MOM? “She’s like that. Well, she drinks wine basically but she’ll drink a beer. She’s cool, man.”
-source: team chevy