Continued from part 1 Q: Could you reflect on the past year of having the National Guard as a sponsor, what you learned from that? DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, it's always fun working with the military as a sponsor because they're not...
Continued from part 1
Q: Could you reflect on the past year of having the National Guard as a sponsor, what you learned from that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, it's always fun working with the military as a sponsor because they're not like anything else. They're not pushing corporate products or anything like that. It's just different, you know. Military also, with the situation we have over in the Middle East, the military's really pushed to the forefront of everybody's minds, whether it be in the news or what have you. It's a really important time, I guess, to be supportive. That makes it interesting right now to be working with them, to see a lot of the things that you see, learn what you learn about what kind of job they're doing.
But the Guard is a little different because you're a civilian soldier. You sort of kind of still keep your day job until you're called upon to do whatever it is. A lot of times you go to different places to do different types of work, whether it be if we have a hurricane or something at the homeland, those guys go in there and work. So you do all kinds of different stuff. It's kind of interesting to hear the stories that you hear.
I like it. I like working with the military. I was lucky because General Vaughn, who runs the National Guard, and I got along really, really good. I really came to admire him more and more each time I met him. He invited me to his house. We all kind of hung out one day. I don't know. It just sort of made me really appreciate my relationship with him.
But it's been fun. He's going to retire and we're going to get a new guy. Hopefully he's just as cool.
Q: Talk about your new teammate. Must be kind of a thrill to race with Mark Martin on the same team after competing against him. Everybody knows what a great representative of the sport he is.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I ain't really talked to him much. We haven't been around each other at all during the off-season. I haven't seen him since the end of last year. He's a great guy. He's really appreciative. Always got nice things to say about you.
He ran a Busch race for us in Vegas that he won. I was clambering to get pictures of him for my own personal collection with a uniform on where it says JR Motorsports on his shoulder. I don't know, I just thought that was awesome having that on his shoulder because of what he's done in the sport, how long he's been around.
One of my favorite racecars ever, as far as paint schemes, and you know I'm crazy about those, is the ASA car he used to drive at Nashville, the No. 2. It was orange and white, a beautiful racecar. He came to my house when I was -- I must have been eight or nine years old. We sat down in the basement. He was showing my Dad these tapes of him racing at Nashville. It was when Mark was trying to get into the sport, into the Winston Cup series at the time. So I've known him forever. His son Matt is a great kid. It's awesome to see him at the racetrack. Whether he's my teammate or not, he's an amazing asset to the sport. He's just a really, really good guy.
But I'm glad that he decided to kind of come back and run full-time. I think he obviously forgot how much of a grind it is. But he'll get through it. Especially being able to drive great racecars, it's makes it a lot easier when you're running up front. Hopefully he decides to do more than one year. I'd like to learn as much as I can from him while he's here.
Q: You've been asked a couple of questions about the relationship with the country artists. I recall two years ago you were paired in the autograph booth with LeAnn Rimes. I think last year your partners with Taylor Swift. Who were you in the booth with today? Any stories?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Miss Peck was the one I was paired with today. We met earlier this year at a race. We had broken the ice there. But LeAnn, she's an amazing person. She's a lot of fun to be around. She's got a hell of a head on her shoulders. She's just a beautiful person. It's always great to see her no matter where you're at.
Taylor was very nice, too. It's always fun to meet those type of people. My family back home is, you know, going to have a ton of questions for me every time I come out here to Nashville and meet some of these people. They get excited about it. Fortunately in the country music world the majority of the people you meet are down-to-earth and good people, so it's fun to be a part of it.
Q: If you could date any of these cute country music singer ladies, who would it be? Underwood, Swift?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: That's tough. That is definitely difficult when you have to narrow it down to just one. I think that LeAnn. Obviously she's married, but he's probably the luckiest man in country music.
Q: Talk about having two major factors in your life with racing and the business side of things:
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, you sort of go into it real easy, I guess. I don't know. When I first started doing any type of business venture, even if it was really small, you know, you really worried about how it might affect the driving, because the driving is my real passion and that's what I really like to do. I don't want to affect that in any way, because I want to do that as long as I possibly can.
You go into it slow and you learn. One of the more important things I guess is having the right people in the right place to handle the business side of it, 'cause, I mean, I like to do different types of things, but to be honest, my business experience isn't as good, I guess, as my racing experience. I have to lean on a lot of people, lean on some people's judgment. You put good people in the right place; they'll run those type of deals for you, where you can focus on the racing.
Once you get the ball rolling, the thing pretty much takes care of itself. Just getting it off the ground.
Q: What's the most fun element you have? What do you enjoy most?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think I enjoy the bar the most. I'd always wanted to get involved in ownership of a night club of some sort, 'cause I really enjoy the entertainment side of it and I enjoy the camaraderie. It's kind of fun to be there and to see the employees working and see them taking pride in what they're doing, the meetings they have after every night, hearing everybody, how uniform everything is, how structured it is.
I don't know, I take a lot of pride in it. I think it's nice to see the employees and everyone working there taking the same amount of pride in it. That's probably right now the most entertaining part for me.
Q: Question regarding Ms. Thayer Lavielle, VP/Marketing & Brand Development at JR Motorsports
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We sort of have a tug of war, me and her. She comes up with some great ideas, things that we need to do, some areas that we may have opportunities in, success in. She doesn't really try to change the perception of me and what I think I am, what I like to do, what I like to be, how I like to act, what I choose. She doesn't really affect that or try to change that.
One of the things that's I guess exciting for her, in our sponsorship change in the last year, we're able to drive down a lot more avenues, do a lot more things, especially with the younger adults. So that's exciting for her and we're working in that area a little bit.
But for the most part, I don't know, me and her have a lot of fun. You know, she's definitely a big asset to our company.
Q: Can you talk about this event, bringing NASCAR drivers and country artists together? It's all about the fans. Talk about how cool that is, what it must mean for the fans.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think it's exciting for them to be able to get something going, you know, before the racing season starts. We've all had a good month and a half off. Sort of been out of sight, out of mind. I'm sure the fans, just like the drivers, are really excited about getting the season started.
This is a little bit of an activity prior to that to really sort of kickoff the next year. Everybody's kind of creeping back toward going to work. You know, this is basically the first real public function we've done at the beginning of every year over the last several years. It's a good way, I guess, to sort of get back into the groove. You know, you sort of sit that month and a half off and get used to being a bit of a bum. Now we're easing back into work. It's a good way to get it going.
Q: What is Daytona going to be like this year without the testing? Changes things up from the past.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I doubt it will be any different. I doubt it will be unrecognizable. I mean, it's probably going to be about the same.
Q: Has the lack of testing affected your team at all?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No. Gave a lot of guys a lot more time at home with their families. I thought it was a good change of pace. Whether it's something that will be -- I don't know if this will be the norm for years to come, but it was a nice little change of pace. Gave everybody a good rest. Made the off-season a little bit longer.
We have all the technology, all the things, all the engineers, all the stuff we need to really simulate testing, have an idea of what the cars are going to do, how they're going to react, so we should show up in the ballpark. It should be an advantage for us, due to the technology and personnel we have that can simulate and guesstimate where we are and get us in the ballpark when we show up for the racetrack.
Q: Rick (Hendrick, owner Hendrick Motorsports) is losing weight because Mark is working him out. He told me he would like to see Dale Jr. working out with Mark, Mark working out with Jeff Gordon. How are the dynamics with Mark coming on board, being so healthy?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: He's always took good care of himself. He's a good example to follow. But we really haven't -- like I said, we just started getting going back to work. This is the first thing I've done all year. I shot a commercial yesterday. I ain't even seen Mark since the end of last year, so... He had his birthday party over at the River.
Q: He did?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah. Thought that was pretty cool.
Q: How fun was that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I didn't go. He had it. I was working (laughter). I hope he had a good time, though. I thought that was really cool.
Q: What do you plan to do tonight?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I'm going to be in Mooresville.
Q: You're not staying?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No. I mean, sounds like a blast. But, you know, I'm telling you, the off-season, you count every day (laughter).
Q: The River?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I'll be there tonight. That's where I'll be.
-credit: gm racing