Las Vegas: GM - Earnhardt Jr press conference

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW BODY RULES AFTER TODAY'S RACE? "I think the people that are grumbling are always grumbling. I think that is just in their personality. That's my ...


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW BODY RULES AFTER TODAY'S RACE? "I think the people that are grumbling are always grumbling. I think that is just in their personality. That's my opinion. I think the cars are close to the same. Nobody is ever going to be totally satisfied until the end of the whole shebang, so I think everything is just going to keep kind of changing and keep changing year after year. But, I'm pretty happy. Look at the teams that ran up front - they're all just good teams. That's what it comes down to. They're all just good race teams and good drivers."

ON HAVING THREE DEI CARS IN THE TOP 10 HERE "I think it does a lot for my confidence and I think it does a lot for the team's. I'm sure it helps Steve a lot to be able to run a good top 10 finish. I know Michael was real happy. We were happy and relieved all at the same time. We've just had a hell of a start to this year, so it feels real good to be able to run good and be happy with what you've got at the end of the day."

WAS THERE ANY KIND OF TEAM MEETING THIS WEEK TO DISCUSS THE START YOUR TEAM WAS OFF TO THIS YEAR? "We didn't really have a meeting. We had a pretty good end to last year. We found out a lot of things that are going to make us better this year with our chassis. We were running raised-rail chassis and stuff and we got some standard-rail chassis and that's why we ran good at Phoenix and Homestead. We had never really run good there before. But, I've never been good at Rockingham. I've just never been good there. I don't know why. I ain't never run good there. We go in there and if we got a 20th place finish, I'd be ecstatic. Daytona, we were just a victim of some crappy, old pa rt that didn't work right. Everybody, but the team, has made a bigger deal out of the start of the season for us. I feel like we're on track.

"We still know our potential. This is the kind of results - we're not used to, of course - we don't have them all the time. But, these are the ones that we know we can produceomHomdH

"We were really good all day long. I really led a lot of laps and I feel like that's how good we should be. Our car really drove great. Over the three years that we've run here before, we've never really had a car that would get into the racetrack. We're learning so many things that are helping us at all the tracks. Running good here is going to reflect on the rest of the season. But, like I said, we found some things out during the last third of last year that really helped us out. That's how we got to running real good and climbing back up from the depths of the point system, and running good at tracks we hadn't run good at before, like here.

"I really want to get a win at Atlanta. We've come so close. I don't know how many times we've run second or been in second place there with a few laps to go. Hopefully, one day we'll win a race there. Daddy used to win all the time...I like Atlanta. It's a fun, fun racetrack because you can run three-wide and move around. Your car can work on the bottom and as good up top, so you've really got an opportunity to do some racing there. I hope they don't ever cut back on the schedule for that track because it's a lot of fun."

WERE YOU AS GOOD AT THE END OF THE RACE AS YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE BEEN? "We were pretty good when the race started. I was really, really loose at the start of the runs, so I think the third stop we put a little air in the right front and I was perfect. That's when I put the three seconds on Matt. I was just cutting up through there on those restarts and getting to the lead and everything. At that time, he may have still been better than us. Looking at the result of the race, he may, at the time, have been better than us. But, I was just riding and my car was real comfortable. The second-to-last set of tires was real tight. They closed the stagger up and made my car too tight. The last set of tires we put on, they took spring rate of the tire - a softer left rear on and fixed the stagger and everything, so I was too loose then. It was real temperamental. I don't know why our car was affected by such minute changes. I've always told Tony (Eury) Jr., that a driver can feel an eighth of an inch or a 16th of an inch in tire stagger. With these tires you have now you can feel an eighth of an inch or a 16th, and you can feel 30 pounds less spring rate in the left rear. It changes the car. It doesn't make you a 10th place car. It makes you a third or fourth place car when you might have been a second or first place car."

IS THERE ANY PRESSURE WITH BEING THE NO. 1 GUY TO THE FANS? "I don't think so. I have a good core fan base. I think that I'm one of the few drivers in the field that a race fan can really relate to and attach themselves to, so I feel like a have a stronger bond with my fans than more so other drivers. I feel real comfortable with the fans we have. It fluctuates. There are a few stragglers that like you one week and hate you the next, but the core fan has always been good to me."

ARE YOU MORE ON TARGET THIS YEAR THAN YOU EVER HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST? 'I think we're definitely a better team. I guess that puts you in a better position to get better results.

"We're not on target. We wanted to win Daytona. We wanted to, at least, get a good finish there. We should have. We were so awful at Rockingham. We wanted to at least come out of there with a 20th place finish, so we're not on target. But, we're a better team and that will show and that will reflect in all our results this year. I don't count us out. It's real early. We can still come back and win the championship real easy. Weeks like this surely help."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup