Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 36th): "The car was good in practice, and we made some adjustments that really shouldn't have made that big of a difference. The car really didn't drive that good. But even...
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 36th):
"The car was good in practice, and we made some adjustments that really shouldn't have made that big of a difference. The car really didn't drive that good. But even the driver makes mistakes and maybe I didn't get through the corners as good as I did before. It's definitely not as good a lap as we thought we could run. Hopefully we do good during the race and get to the front. "
"I'm kind of disappointed, I really wanted to qualify good. But I think we'll be doing fine in the race tomorrow."
How do you think the Dodges will fare this weekend?
"Looking at the practice speeds, we were up there. We were third; Pontiac was second. If you're questioning the aerodynamic packages, you really can't put that into play as much here as you can as far as horsepower and who's got the most. You look at the practice speeds and you see the guys that you know have good motor departments up front. You can contribute that to a lot of the people that are up front. We've got pretty good motors, but we didn't have a good car."
In last year's race, there were stages where you'd be running good - 3rd or 4th place -- and then you'd come in for a pit stop and it seemed like all the adjustability would seem to go out of it by lap 120 or so. How drastic of a change is it here before and after a pit stop?
"I only had that one race last year to really judge by. But I think what happened last year was that as the race went on, the track got a lot tighter and a lot tighter. The shadows started to fall over certain corners of the track. I believe it just got kind of overcast at the end of that race. We just didn't adjust enough. We didn't expect it to change as much as it did. That was the case at pretty much every race last year for us. This year, we're a little bit more knowledgeable about the track tightening up at places like Pocono and Michigan. If we start the race with a great handling racecar, that's probably the first thing that comes across my mind is to tell Tony (Eury) Jr. that we're going to probably have to think about what we're going to have to do later in the race to get the car freed-up. There are all kinds of things that you can change on the car to do that, but they all don't work the same way and give you the feeling that you want.
"With the consistency in the tires this year, every race has been a lot more manageable as far as making adjustments on the cars. Last year, you might come in on a pit stop and make and adjustment to tighten the car up, and then you go back out and the car might be even looser than before. You couldn't understand it. Now this year with the tires that Goodyear has brought to us, we've been more consistent. So now every time we come in to make a pit stop, we can pretty much count on the car doing what we expect it to do."
How important are spring rubbers?
"They've made a rule that you can't start the race with spring rubbers in the car. I don't like it because every time I want to put a spring rubber in it, Tony has to remind me that we can't do that. It's kind of frustrating. And you really don't want to do that on a pit stop because it's become so competitive on pit road that you don't want to give up that time to change the spring rubber or put a spring rubber in. So, I think the guys are probably working with air pressure and turning the screw jacks and maybe track bars and stuff like that more than spring rubbers. A spring rubber change - adding one or taking one out - is seven to 10 spots on pit road nowadays."
Do you think the one-lap qualifying format was a disadvantage for you?
"No, not really. My car didn't drive good, so if it would have been 15 laps I don't think it would have been any better. I'm just disappointed because we had such a good car in practice. That's a real foul-up on our part to go from there to where we are now. But I like the one-lap format. I think it give the fans what they pay for. It puts a lot of pressure and focus on one lap. A guy can make a mistake and that's what he's dealt with. It puts more pressure on the drivers and the teams and I enjoy it."
Any thought to the possibility of being the first second-generation winner of this race?
"Well, coming in here I felt like I was going to win this race all week long. I'm kind of questioning my confidence now because of where I'm going to start. When we came here and tested, the car drove like nobody had a car that good. They may run the times that I can run, but I think on long runs our car is going to be turning better than most people. Even though we're fighting loose off of turn four now, when we take the tape off the grills and get our cars in race trim, the guys are going to be complaining - maybe not in the beginning of the race, but through the majority of the race that their cars are not turning well. I think we already have half that problem licked. If we can work our way to the front, I believe we can stay there. I just really felt good coming into this race the way our car tested and the way it drove. It gave me a lot of confidence."