BEHIND THE HAULER TALK WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CHANGES THAT WILL BE MADE AT THIS TRACK? "I'm looking forward to is. It's kind of like going into your living room and moving your...
BEHIND THE HAULER TALK WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CHANGES THAT WILL BE MADE AT THIS TRACK? "I'm looking forward to is. It's kind of like going into your living room and moving your furniture around. It's a little change of pace and I think it'll be an improvement. Hopefully they do a good job."
HOW IS THE SEASON COMING ALONG FOR YOU AT THIS POINT? "We're making some great gound on these tracks and some huge gains. This is the best opportunity I've had as a driver and the team is really capable from top to bottom. I'm excited to go to Atlanta and places where I know we've been great. My team is in as good a shape as it's ever been. This is the best opportunity I've had as a driver when it comes to driving good equipment and having a team that's really capable from top to bottom. I'm just real proud that everybody who is with us is with us because they make a great race team and they build some great race cars. That's what it's all about. That's how you win races."
AT ATLANTA, CAN YOU RACE TWO, THREE, AND FOUR-WIDE OF YOU HAVE TO? "Oh, yeah. Absolutely. It's probably the most multi-dimentional track we run on as far as the grooves. You can get all over that race track from wherever you want. And if the car isn't working, you can surely find a place where it will work. It's a lot of fun to race on. That's one of the better built race tracks on the circuit."
GOING INTO RACE NUMBER THREE, IS THE LANDSCAPE SETTLING DOWN WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT CARS? DOES ANYTING SURPRISE YOU OUT THERE AT ALL? "No, not really. It's another season; another year."
BY HAVING A GOOD START TO THE SEASON, HAS SOME OF THE PRESSURE BEEN LIFTED OFF YOU ALREADY? "Yeah, definitely. When you go into California and don't run well and you come to Vegas and don't run well, it puts a lot of pressure on you. We finished in the top 12 to 15 last week, and that's our goal this week. And if we can do that at these two race tracks, which have been our biggest nemesis, I think we can expect to have a pretty good season and expect to be competitive all year."
AFTER CALIFORNIA, THERE WAS SOME TALK ABOUT CHANGING THE BANKING, WILL THAT HELP THE RACING? "I think it'll help the racing. I think they've learned from other race tracks and other configurations on how to build a better race track. It's a good place and it's a lot of fun to race on, but I believe they can make some improvements and it'll be a nice change. BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, THERE SEEM TO BE A LOT OF EYES ON YOU. HOW DO YOU TAKE IT DOWN A LITTLE WITHOUT LOSING YOUR EDGE? "You do have a lot of eyes watching you. You have a lot of people recognizing any little thing that you do and if you do it right or if you do it wrong. I'm not sure why I've got so many eyes on me, but it might just be because I am so young and I have the ability to win races. To try to get there is a different story. We do what we can week in and week out. Sometimes I get myself into trouble and cause my team a little bit of grief by wrecking cars, but other times we're able to come out with a win, so that's what they like about me. I'm always going after it."
SO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SORT OF ON THE EDGE, BUT NOT LOSE THE EDGE? "Oh, yeah, it's just like anybody else. You want to be on the edge, but you don't want to step over it."
DO SOME DRIVERS INTIMIDATE YOU ON THE TRACK? "Nobody really intimidates me. I go out there and try to do my own deal and try to run my own race. There are going to be people who will block you or run you a little harder than others, but it's just like any other car -- if you're not leading the race, there are always cars to pass."
IF IT'S COLD AND WINDY ON RACE DAY, WHAT EFFECT WILL THAT HAVE THE CARS? "The cars are going to be a little bit harder to drive. The biggest thing about the wind is that it's going to blow you around on the track a little bit. Depending on which way it's blowing on the track. Right now, it's blowing down the back straightaway and it's going to make you tight off of Turn 4. It's the same situation for all of us. It's whoever can get their car to handle the best through it."
IS THE LAS VEGAS TRACK STILL SPECIAL TO YOU? "It probably won't wear off until we get our first win on it or something like that. As soon as we can get that out of the way, I think we'll be okay."
YOUR BROTHER, KURT BUSCH, SAID HE WAS TRYING TO HELP YOU WITH PATIENCE A LITTLE BIT. "Yeah, we talked a little bit. We were out at the sand dunes and had a good time and talked a little bit. Basically, it's just all about how to be patient and stuff like that. I lost a little bit of that last weekend (in the Mexico City Busch race) in trying to get back to the lead. I was worried too much about what was going on behind me. I knew Denny (Hamlin) was fast. I knew Boris Said was fast. I tried to get to the lead so I could try to pull away. But knowing there would be more cautions at the end of the race, I should have known better."
WHAT DOES LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MEAN TO YOU AND KURT BUSCH? "This place means so much to us because we've grown up here and we have so many wins over there on the short track. It would be nice to get some wins over here on the big track. I've got a few over on the dirt side too and I believe Kurt does too. So we've won pretty much everywhere here except the Vegas l.5-mile. So we'll see if we can get it done this weekend. If not, there are plenty more years down the road that we can possibly get it done."
ON THE REMODELING PLANS FOR THE TRACK "It's going to be a shame. It's a really great race track the way it is now. I think it's plenty raceable. Now we're going to have more banking put in it. It's going to have that progressive banking put in it. It's going to be somewhat similar to Homestead but I think still you're going to have one, one and a half grooves for the first couple of times -- just like anywhere else you go do."
HOW DO YOU AND YOUR BROTHER, KURT, TALK? ARE YOU CLOSELY KNIT WHERE YOU CAN TALK ABOUT ANYTHING? "Yeah, always. We can talk about anything and share anything. It's good to have that close knit relationship between each other. Pretty much, anything goes. We always discuss things about race tracks and racing and off-track stuff and what we're going to do next with four-wheelers and who is going to buy the biggest, badest one next. I bought one just before we came out here. And then he found out I got that, so he went out and bought another one to try and beat me. It just keeps going on like that. We have a good time with it."