Fontana II: Earnhardt Jr - GM Top-10 interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: ON THE HEAT COMPLICATING THINGS FOR YOURSELF, TEAM MEMBERS AND CAR: "It is not too bad as long as you are running good, you don't even think about it. But if you...

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:

ON THE HEAT COMPLICATING THINGS FOR YOURSELF, TEAM MEMBERS AND CAR: "It is not too bad as long as you are running good, you don't even think about it. But if you are not running too good, it gets to you a little bit.

ON FRAME OF MIND THIS WEEKEND: "We are just working on the car, working on the handle of the car. Just keeping my frame of mind in the right place. We have the car in a pretty good place in race trim."

ON MAKING CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY MORE EXCITING: "Probably dig it up and rebuild it. They can do it here, they have done it other places, I don't see why they can't do it here. It is a little bit too wide and it is flat down in turns one and two which is not indicative of good racing. We go 196 mph down the front straight away into a flat corner, how are you supposed to race into that? It is tough just to get around it uneventfully, much less trying to pass somebody. Turns three and four are a lot of fun, it is a good corner. They did a good job down there. It is just too flat down there in one and two."

ON STAYING IN THE TOP-1O IN POINTS AFTER THIS RACE: "I think it will be all right. I would have to have a pretty bad weekend to get knocked out of the top-10 this week. But we can't really afford that so we want to get out of here with a good top-10 finish. Last time we were here, we had a pretty good car, which gave us a better idea for this time around. I think we can get it together and get ourselves a good run out of here."

ON GOALS FOR NEXT TWO RACES: "Just got to stay under the radar. Out of the action. Either be out in front of it or far enough behind it to miss it. You definitely count points and figure out where everybody is and how people are running. Obviously you pay a lot of attention to the others in contention and have been for the last five or six weeks. You do want to know how the other guys are doing and the weekends they are having."

ON KASEY KAHNE'S POSTION TO GET IN THE CHASE: "I have a lot of confidence in him. We are pretty good friends. If it was between me and him it would be a lot better than having to race somebody you didn't like. Kasey deserves to be in the Chase, he has had a good season. We have worked really hard to get in the Chase, A lot of teams to and belong in the Chase, but not everybody gets a spot. I hope that he makes is, but obviously not at my expense."

WHEN SOMEONE IS TRYING THAT HARD TO GET IN THE CHASE, ON THEM BEING MORE RECKLESS: "People don't get too reckless at this level. They get aggressive. That is what they do. Reckless is dangerous. I think everybody is going to race with a lot of respect and determination at the same time. Everybody knows that they have to accomplish. They will race each other really really hard but there is a lot of give and take on the track."

ON RETURNING TO RICHMOND: "I am excited. I was hoping by this time we would have more wins than we do. But going back to a place where we have an opportunity. I know we have got a good enough car, so we might be able to pull it off. It is a very good track for me and I have a lot of fun racing there."

ON DEFINING MOMENT SO FAR THIS SEASON: "Maybe our third at Bristol. That is such a minefield especially starting 40th. Hopefully over the next couple of weekends, it will be a pretty smooth sailing and we won't have to get in to the Chase by the skin of our teeth."

ON BUSCH RACE IN MONTREAL: "There are a lot of things about Canada that I appreciate and I think it would be a lot of fun to go up there, I will look forward to the opportunity to go up there. One of my favorite rock bands (inaudible) is from Canada, lives and plays there. I have never had a chance to see them live so it would be cool to go up there and see them. I have done a couple of appearances in Ontario. My Dad went up there a lot time ago to race and won. It was probably the tallest trophy he ever had in the house. I think it is way overdue and I think it is a good deal for us to be racing in places like that. We need to be racing in Canada, South America; I would like to go to Brazil. I would rather go on a weekend that I didn't race so I could enjoy the sites and all rather than go there just too race. But either way, it is a cool."

ON ATMOSPHERE AMONG EIGHT GUYS BUNCHED UP FOR LAST SPOTS IN CHASE: "It is the same as it is every week. I might let up in the corner and let some one go by if they are faster than me. If I thought we would miss the Chase, I probably wouldn't. I know that sounds mean. I drive on the side of caution all the time. I am not really going to change my style. I drive to finish a race and finish respectively. Some guys are more aggressive every single lap might change their approach. I don't have to really make any adjustments on how I drive to finish these races. The last lap is probably the worst as far as nerves and being fairly miserable. Going into Bristol, I mean I love Bristol. But three races from the Chase, if you are even close to something, you are close to not missing it. But we got through there. Hopefully we will come out of here with over 100 points over 11th, I will feel great. It would be great heading into Richmond with at least 100 point gap."

ON NOT FEELING PRESSURE DESPITE HOW TIGHT THE BATTLE HAS BEEN: "I would feel real bad pressure if I had made some mistakes that had put us in this position. We have some mechanical failures and things like that. I look for satisfaction in the effort and not the results. It is not all about statistics and numbers. I look at things by how our season has gone. I feel like the guys have worked really hard; I have worked really hard. We have a lot to be proud of, Chase or no Chase, this is a great race team with a lot of potential. I think we have a chance to make the Chase, a really really good chance. I my concern really is that is if this team makes the Chase, how are we going to step it up to win the Championship. Making the Chase is great, but it is the Championship I am after. We have to make sure that with all the worrying of making the Chase, I don't want to forget that this team needs to win the Championship."

ON HAVING A MENTAL EDGE BECAUSE OF NOT FEELING THE PRESSURE: "I have always depended having a mental edge or having that extra bit of confidence or whatever it may be to carry myself through tough situations. I have been around this sport for a very long time and I feel like that if anybody should have the mental part of it figured out, I should be one of those guys. I should be in that group. I try not to be psyched out by other guys on the race track and things like that. I try to stand my ground when I am on the race track. That is mental thing as much as it is actions, it is mental. I feel like I have that part of the came figured out or at least am in the top five percent."

ON THINGS LEARNED THIS YEAR BEING A TEAM OWNER: "When you are a team owner, you are concentrating a lot of trying to save and manage your budget. We have had to do without a few things. We had more personnel in a certain field than we needed so unfortunately we have to funnel down some cost and let people go that we wanted to keep but didn't have the necessary funding for. Understandably, when you are only doing a two-car team, you only have a need for a certain amount of people and you can't hire everybody that you want and everybody that knocks on the door. That has been the tough part; learning how to manage the money and the financials and to position the team to go forward into the next season. When we first started the team, all the cars we had were bought from other people. Now we have about 15 cars and only three of them are the ones that we bought. We got rid of the other ones and built all brand new stuff. It has been a great evolution and a lot of fun. My team is prepared. I am hoping that Shane Huffman pans out to be a real man with a lot of aggression and a go-getter."

ON LOOKING AT PRO CUP DRIVERS: "There are six or seven drivers there are sorta going to make it. If Shane doesn't, it isn't his fault all the time. Maybe the cars weren't good enough; maybe the equipment wasn't good enough. There are all kinds of variables that play in to that and not necessarily his fault if it doesn't work out. We are going to give him the best opportunity we can, he has a strong mind and lot of fire and that is what we need. He doesn't give up, stays calm in the seat."

ON NASCAR'S CONSISTENCY WITH RULES: "I think they are really consistent in how they penalize people, how they distribute the fines. Everything has been very consistent for several years. They have always punished people when they need to be punished. The only problem I have, it is obviously just me being honest and it will probably come back and bite me in the butt, but the fines aren't tough enough. I have paid $5,000 fines and I never felt it. The points hurt. They take 25 or 50 points, man; you will learn your lesson then. That is a real way to get somebody's attention. The dollars, I don't know if that really matters so much unless you are in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. With some of the things that have happened over the last five years, if I was the president of NASCAR, I would have probably thrown down a $150,000 fine on some of these guys and myself maybe in certain situations maybe."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Shane Huffman