CHEVY NNCS AT INDY: Weekly Top 10 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: AFTER THE TEST HERE, YOU FELT PRETTY GOOD HERE. YOU DIDN'T RUN MUCH IN THIS FIRST PRACTICE "I only made...
CHEVY NNCS AT INDY: Weekly Top 10 with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
AFTER THE TEST HERE, YOU FELT PRETTY GOOD HERE. YOU DIDN'T RUN MUCH IN THIS FIRST PRACTICE "I only made two laps. We ran qualifying trim and I ain't even in race trim yet. Once I get in race trim, and I'm practicing against the cars that weren't here that first day, I'll have a better idea. But I feel pretty good. My car is pretty quick and it drives really nice. It's going to be tough competition on Sunday, no matter. There are going to be a lot of guys that have great cars. You're just going to have to race really hard."
WHY AREN'T GUYS RUNNING MORE LAPS IN PRACTICE? "A lot of guys are practicing for qualifying so they make one lap and come in."
AFTER DAYTONA, HAS IMS BECOME THE PLACE TO TRY TO GET A WIN AS FAR AS BIG RACE TRACKS? "Now that I've won the 500, this is definitely one of the ones at the top of the list."
WITH THE POINTS AS TIGHT AS THEY ARE AROUND THE BUBBLE, HOW DO YOU EXPECT IT TO AFFECT THE INTENSITY OF THE RACING? "It'll be exciting for everybody. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to it. There is a lot of competition out there. It's not like I'm racing other guys in the series. Right now, me and the top two guys in the sport are right there - beating for a spot. So, that's got to be exciting. It's almost like it was scripted. But we'll see how it plays out. I think it's going to be tough to beat Jeff (Gordon) and Tony (Stewart) to get into the Chase. So we're going to have to really look four and spots ahead of us as our prey, you know what I mean?"
YOU SAY YOU DON'T FEEL ANY PRESSURE, BUT IT'S REALLY ALL OR NOTHING NOW WITH SIX TO GO "It ain't all or nothing (laughter). It's season number six out of 20. I want it. I'm really excited. I'm very pumped up and enthusiastic about being able to drive a race car this weekend. Having a weekend off was all right, but you're really ready to get after it. I'm really ready to get it started and get it over with and see where we end up. There's really not a lot of pressure or stress about it. I know there are people depending on me and now that's a little bit different. And I feel accountable. I think we'll be able to do it.
"I try not to stress out about things. When I was in high school, I had severe ulcers. So I had to change how I handled with stress. I just try to relax and do the best job I can. I'm very prepared and very focused and excited to see where this thing ends up. I really didn't want to have an off weekend. I really wanted to get right back to the race track - especially after the finish (43rd) we had at Pocono. I didn't really want to leave on that note and take a weekend off. I wanted to leave on a good note."
HOW IS YOUR TEAM DOING SINCE LAST YEAR? "I'm really happy with my cars. They're great. Everybody pretty much can buy and build the same thing in this garage. My guys are great. They're excited. They're some of the most talented guys in the garage. When they're pumped up and on their game, they're some of the best in the business. I've got a great opportunity as a driver to be driving for those guys. Tony Jr. being a leader that he is has done a great job this year. We need to improve in a couple of areas within the company such as motors and whatnot. We are improving, but we need to continue that. We need to strive as hard as we can to gain power and to gain torque in each motor we build. The motors that I broke weren't even the new stuff. The motors I broke weren't even the new stuff. The motors I broke were old motors. So if we've got to run on the ragged edge to take that chance to make the Chase, we need to do it. I'd rather be running fifth and trying to pass the guy in fourth and blow up than be just running 25th all day getting dragged down the straightaway."
ON THE POPULARITY OF THE CHASE: "A lot of things in this sport continue to get larger as far as the exposure. The stories keep getting bigger and bigger and more people are interested in it. It is what it is. We just take it one week at a time. I've got to do my best every week as a driver to be as prepared as I can and not make any mistakes on my end.
"I was skeptical at first, but now that they're talking about changing it (the Chase) even more, I'm really happy with the way the system works. I think it's effective. But any way to you stack it up, it's the same. The that's the most consistent and the guy who wins has the best season."
DID YOU ENJOY YOUR MOVIE CAMEO? "I had a lot of fun. It was a great honor and a lot of fun to have the pleasure to do that. It was really fast. It didn't take long. When you do those cameos, you don't need to be standing for hours like those actors have to. So I was in and out and able to get on to the next gig."
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BENEFITTED THIS SEASON FROM BEING OUT OF THE CHASE LAST YEAR DURING THOSE LAST 10 RACES? "I joked with Tony Jr. about last year sort of being my year off. But if we could have one, that's sort of what it was like. But it was kind of nice to step back and kind of relax a little bit and not have to be in the middle of everything every week. But we recharged our batteries pretty good. To be able to work with Tony Jr. at the end of the season was a big help. His cars and his set-ups and theories and ideas were different than what we were using. It was different to drive those cars and it was different to drive those cars and it took me a while to get used to what I needed to be feeling and how the car drives in the corners. It was a big gain for us to get together early. We came into the season really excited and focused. Aside from those two events, the last two events (finishing 43rd at Pocono and Loudon), we've really got a lot to be proud of and we've really had some good handling cars and it sucks that those two races right there sort of have thrown a black cloud over how decent of a season we were having. So, we're trying to get into the Chase strongly and not just by the skin of our teeth. We want to get in there and come back strong and then try to make the Chase with ease."
HOW WAS PRACTICE? 'I didn't run any qualifying runs when we tested, so we came here and went right into qualifying trim. A lot of guys are in race trim. We got beat by some guys I didn't expect to get beat by, but we also out run some guys I didn't expect to outrun or expected to sort of be challenged by. Gordon, and the No. 48 and the No. 20 were in race trim when I was in race trim.
The No. 9 and No. 11 were in race trim. So I don't know where those guys are until this next practice. I'm not really concerned. My car is a lot better than I am, in qualifying trim. It's really fast and I've just got to put it down and make it happen. I think the car can go quite a bit faster once we get in race trim. We were pretty strong in race trim in the test and I'm looking forward to getting into race trim tomorrow and really seeing how we are. My best finish here is 10th and I think with how I feel today in the car, and how the car reacts and how we tested, I believe I could easily improve that."