October 14, 2003 - NASCAR Winston Cup superstar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. visited the newly re-configured Homestead-Miami Speedway Tuesday to preview Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck ...
October 14, 2003 - NASCAR Winston Cup superstar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. visited the newly re-configured Homestead-Miami Speedway Tuesday to preview Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, November 13-16, 2003. It was the first time any driver had seen the newly re-configured track that features 20 degrees of progressive banking. Earnhardt Jr. predicts that the track will soon become a driver and fan favorite on the NASCAR circuit. Below is a transcript from Tuesday's press conference.
DALE EARNHARDT JR'S INTIAL IMPRESSION OF THE NEW HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY:
"I've taken a few good laps (in a passenger car) and have gotten an idea what it will be like to enter the corners here. There will be a lot more opportunities for passing. It's amazing. I can't even believe that it's the same place. I think Homestead-Miami will quickly become one of the favorite tracks for all of the guys on the circuit. I know a lot of the guys are excited about it and I know I'm excited to be here to check it out. I expect my phone to be ringing off the hook when I get back to the house."
ON THE COMMITMENT OF HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY MANAGEMENT:
"It's unprecedented to have such a reconstructive project on a facility that was already in such good shape. It's pretty impressive what they've done here. It says a lot about their willingness to put out a good product for this market. I really appreciate what they've done here. They've improved the track and put the SAFER barriers in. It says a lot about the class of the management here and their willingness to put together such a great racetrack. What they've done here is amazing. I can't wait to get into a racecar and go around it."
ON TURNS THREE AND FOUR:
"I think that side of the track will be a little racier. I think you'll see the second groove in turns three and four come in the quickest. The back straightaway is higher than the front straightaway. It'll be as comfortable to drive into the middle groove or the top groove as it will to go to the bottom. Since the asphalt is new, we'll go to the bottom first since that's where all the grip will be. But as the race goes along and as the weekend goes along, we'll move up the cars up racetrack to loosen the cars up a bit. Turns three and four remind me a lot of Atlanta, which is one of the only corners on the whole circuit where you can race four wide through there intentionally. That's one of my favorite tracks and this is as close as you can get to it without the dogleg.
"You're going to see wider racing through the entrance and especially the exits of the corners. There are several ways you can enter and exit the corner, at least that's what it looks like without being in a racecar. The faster guy will have an opportunity to pass and you really didn't have that before because it was such a one-groove racetrack."
ON TURNS ONE AND TWO:
"The straightaway is a little bit lower heading into turns one and two, so naturally you'll turn into the corner sooner instead of driving up a hill into the corner. The exit is very, very wide, so I think you'll feed the car out to the wall a lot sooner than you anticipate, so that will create a lot of opportunities for passing. I think we'll be able to acclimate ourselves to the track pretty quickly, especially with that extra day of testing. I think that will help us out a lot.
"We like having banking because of the extra speed it creates. It's a really big track, so if and when that top groove comes in, which I think it will, that'll just about be full throttle lap. You might be able to run wide open right now with the new asphalt on the bottom. That remains to be seen, but you might be able to do it with barely cracking the throttle in the corners."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. EXPLAINS VARIABLE (PROGRESSIVE) BANKING:
"The progressive (variable) banking will allow the guy behind you to have a lower lane to pass. For a driver, the way it works is that you put one tire on one part of the banking and one tire on another part of the banking to change the handling of the car. Having the banking is actually an advantage if your car is not handling right. If I drive down into the corner and my car is too tight (under steer) on the bottom, I can put the right rear tire up on the steeper banking and give it spring rate and put the left front tire on the flatter banking to make the car turn. It de-wedges the car. It's all kind of technical, but it's kind of simple if you think about it. You'll see guys move around. You won't see guys run the same line lap after lap. Some guys will handle differently in different parts of the racetrack and they'll have to adjust for that."