DALE EARNHARDT, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed his chances in the Chase, the Wrangler auction for charity, the Charlotte test and more. ON HIS ...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed his chances in the Chase, the Wrangler auction for charity, the Charlotte test and more.
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN. "That was pretty good. I think we had it a little bit better in the middle of practice than we did right then. We had a real early draw too so I wasn't too optimistic about the position we were qualifying. The car is pretty good, pretty stable. It's going to be pretty fast I think."
TALK TO ME ABOUT YOUR WRANGLER AUCTION. "The Wrangler auction has been going on for about five years. We auction off a ride on eBay through Wrangler.com. Basically it's an appearance that I do at Lowe's (Motor Speedway) and we give the executives from Wrangler and a bunch of media four or five laps in the car with me driving. We auction one off for Victory Junction (Gang Camp). We've been doing it for about five years. You can go to Wrangler.com and find that out and figure out where you need to go on eBay to find the auction."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ABLE TO GIVE BACK TO VICTORY JUNCTION LIKE THAT? "I mean Victory Junction is a real expensive camp to run. It basically runs solely on the money that it raises and charities and what not and all the drivers up and down the garage do things throughout the year whether it be their own golf tournament, own foundations or whatever to raise money for Victory Junction Gang. Kyle (Petty) started the initiative and gave us all an opportunity and an avenue to do that. We're all very thankful for what him and Patty (Petty) have done. It's pretty cool. They are thinking about opening another one here in the Midwest somewhere. It will be even more incentive for us to raise more money."
YOU'RE A LITTLE BIT FURTHER DOWN IN THE POINTS THAN YOU WANT TO BE RIGHT NOW, HOW DO YOU LOOK AT YOUR CHANCES? "I think it's really early still. I think the chances are still pretty good. The team is very confident and our cars are looking great and they're driving really good with the exception of last week. I'm anticipating that we'll finish strong."
YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF 1.5-MILE TRACKS COMING UP, IS THERE ANY KEY OR ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THOSE? "We go to Kentucky (Speedway) and test a lot and we've already started doing that. We feel pretty prepared for those. We've been running good at those tracks all year long. We'll just have to see how it works out for us. We feel like we know what we need to do. We just have to make sure we keep our heads on straight and make the right decisions."
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR CAR TO MAKE IT BETTER HERE AT KANSAS? "Well this track has aged quite a bit and the groove is really high and you can run in the middle and the top of the race track. With this car it tends to like running higher as it gets tight and slick on the bottom. I saw a lot of guys falling off dramatically in their race practice speeds on the long runs. I'm hoping I can test a little bit tomorrow with the top groove and see how the car likes it up there. I think a lot of guys will be looking up there on Sunday to find some speed. The race is gonna end up on the bottom as the track cools down around four o'clock or so near the end of the race but I think you can maintain and do really well for the first three quarters of the race running up high."
THEY ARE TAKING ABOUT PUTTING UP LIGHTS HERE WHEN THEY GET A SECOND RACE, I'M ASSUMING YOU'LL BE ALL FOR A NIGHT RACE. "Anything to get a Sunday off right? That would be awesome. I really like racing at night. I think it's a great atmosphere. I think it would work at nearly all the race tracks and I think it's something that I encourage all the race tracks to look into if NASCAR's willing to work with them on the scheduling and what not. For our sport I feel like it's a better audience and it certainly makes it where it's a more energetic evening you know, racing at night. The fans really seem to enjoy it especially in the summer where it's cooler at night. It's more enjoyable to watch a race than it is to sit in the sun for four hours."
DID YOU TALK WITH BRAD (KESELOWSKI) MUCH DURING THE TEST AT CHARLOTTE? "I didn't really talk to Brad too much. He's got a lot of pressure and he's in a very high-pressure situation coming into the deal like he is and trying to learn like he is. I'm basically just standing on the sidelines for anything he needs. I think that's for him to work directly with the crew chiefs and engineers. Get to know all the people at Hendrick (Motorsports) and forge and build those relationships early. I'm afraid to try to give him too much advice really. I think he's smart enough to understand and know what he needs. He's on his way."
DOES HAVING BRAD MAKING HIS CUP START FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HELP YOU IN YOUR SPONSORSHIP FOR NEXT YEAR ON THE NATIONWIDE? "I believe it does help us tremendously. We're very close on being able to announce something on our programs for next year. We're really excited about how good that looks right now. But everything that Brad does in a positive way, whether it be in this garage or the Nationwide garage certainly helps our program. And he's dedicated to it, he really is and I appreciate his efforts. We give him a good opportunity and he's repaying me by his loyalty and his energy toward that program."
HOW DID YOU RUN AT THE TEST AT CHARLOTTE EARLIER THIS WEEK? "We ran really good I thought. Man that track really runs good around the top and its one of those tracks to where, a lot of tracks I like running the top groove and a lot of tracks the top groove comes in when it's hot and slick like it is right now, but around four or five o'clock when a lot of the Sunday races end the bottom groove comes back in as the grip starts to rise back in the race track. But at Charlotte it seems like you can run the top all night long and that's still the fastest way to run even late in the evening so that's really good for me. I really enjoy racing at that race track. I have a lot of family there watching. It's an exciting race and an exciting race track. The test went really good. We were pretty happy with how fast we were and how quick we were able to run."
WITH THE TEAMS HISTORY IN THAT RACE YOU HAVE TO FEEL CONFIDENT. "I feel like that track owes me one. We've ran really good there in the past and haven't got any trophies to show for it so it would mean a lot to me to be able to get an official five hundred, six hundred mile victory at that race track."
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THE GUYS IN THE CHASE THAT ARE NEAR YOU IN THE STANDINGS? "Not so much. The race unfolds around you and whatever happens to those other guys, you can leapfrog four or five guys any given week. I feel like you really have to keep an eye on the distance between you and number one. That's really what you've got to pay a lot of attention to. You got other guys that are in second and third that could feasibly go on a winning streak as well. Even if you finish in the top five you still don't gain anything. You just have to charge hard and make the best of it."
SO KYLE (BUSCH) IS IN A TOUCH POSITION BEING 210 (POINTS) DOWN? "I think everybody and Kyle himself would agree all of us outside of the top eighth are in a tough position now. Kyle's definitely got the talent and team to turn it right around. You saw Jimmie (Johnson) do it last year. He got in a hole early. I would not be surprised if we come down to Homestead and Kyle was feasibly, mathematically still alive."
-credit: gm racing