Dale Earnhardt Jr. , No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet (Qualified 3rd) ON THE NEW PAVEMENT HERE: "I'm kind of surprised. We kind of picked up where we left off. I thought we might struggle just a little bit in qualifying. I figured some guys would ...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. , No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet (Qualified 3rd)
ON THE NEW PAVEMENT HERE:
"I'm kind of surprised. We kind of picked up where we left off. I thought we might struggle just a little bit in qualifying. I figured some guys would really be quick. We had a good car today. We were able to hang on to it in qualifying and I'm pretty proud of my team."
WILL THE TEMPERATURE OF THE TIRES PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE RACE?:
"I don't know really. One thing I think a lot of people are missing the point on is before they ground the older surface here, you'd have rubber sticking to the bottom groove up to an inch and a half think of rubber patches sticking to the bottom groove. That happened in the late model race here. That's one of the things that I had a lot trouble with. I'd see other guys run right through it. I think that's going to be the concern. We'll probably have a second groove more forcefully than willingly. That's one thing I think you're going to see. When they ground the surface it would quit sticking to that for some reason. I think we'll see that. I'm a little bit worried about that. I see a lot of tire debris and stuff up on top of the race track. I don't think tire wear or anything is going to be a problem - just the build up that we had here two or three years ago."
WITH THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP, HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING?:
"The first thing that comes to mind really for qualifying is your pit selection. When Ryan (Newman) lays a lap like that down, pretty much the only thing you can look forward is trying to get better pit selection than everybody else beside him. This is a very difficult pit road especially on the front straight away. If you can get a pit down in the corner in turn one it's a little easier in and out. The angle in and the angle leaving the pit stall is a lot better. If those guys are forced into stalls here on the front straight away, they can run into people, get run into, have all kinds of troubles and things that can happen to them in the race. I think they may have a little bit of concern there. When you talk about Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, qualifying position is not a factor. Kurt qualified 36th here when he won last year. Those guys can have several pit strategies in the first 50 laps of the race to get them right in the top five. I'm not expecting that that is going to hamper their ability on Sunday other than just pit selection."
WITH THE NEW SURFACE WILL YOU WATCH THE TRUCK RACE FROM THE HAULER TOMORROW?:
"I've watched the truck race here in the past. They don't use the race track like the Cup cars do. You don't see that in the Busch Series either. At other tracks we really widen the groove everywhere we go more so than any of those series. We'll watch a little bit and kind of see if some other instances pop up with the new surface."
WILL MARTINSVILLE BE THE MAKE IT OR BREAK IT RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?:
"Any of these races are pitfalls for any of us. Anything could happen. Motors break here. They break in Atlanta and they break in Phoenix just the same. My main position is, I run really good here and Atlanta and Phoenix. I'd like to go into the last two races with at least an 80-point lead because I don't have a stellar statistic at Darlington or at Homestead. Those are my two concerns. Hopefully we don't have any mistakes where we hope to run good like here."
ON YOUR RIVALRY WITH JEFF GORDON AND HOW CLOSE IN POINTS YOU WOULD BE WITH THE OLD SYSTEM:
"I like racing Jeff. I probably will get plenty of that in the next several years. I'll try to race Rusty (Wallace) and all these other guys as much as I can over the next 12 to 18 months. We have a lot fun when we're out there. These are the guys that were either racing with my father or coming into the sport when he was here and guys that I looked up to. I remember when I raced one of my first Busch races in St. Louis. I pulled on to pit road for my first practice and Terry Labonte was beside me in his car. I didn't even feel comfortable going on the same race track as him because I hadn't paid my dues or whatever. It was really uncomfortable I guess to be with those guys because they are so much more intimidating at that age. I like racing Jeff. I don't really think much about racing the old system. I know that's going to be beat into everybody's head whether you want to think about it or not. By the end of the season, we're all going to be tired of hearing about it. Hopefully the new system works out and we have a big ending at the finale in Homestead and somebody is celebrating and everybody is pretty happy with the result."
HOW WILL YOU RACE WITH NON-CHASE CONTENDERS?:
"When you're out there running right behind somebody or you got somebody in the mirror, you're not thinking about where they are in the points system. You just worry about how their car is handing and how your car is handling and whether you need to get them out of the way or give them a shot in the ass or whatever. We just deal with one race at a time, one guy at time whoever you're racing against. I think too much has been made out of that - the guys that are in the Chase and not in the Chase and how they race and how we race. Everybody races the same. Dale Jarrett is not going to move over for me. I don't expect him to. Everybody is out there racing as hard as they can."
WERE YOU FRUSTRATED BY THE RESULTS OF YOUR APPEAL OF THE 25 POINT PENALTY?:
"I was really frustrated by the appeal. I really felt pretty strong about it. I wouldn't have went all the way down to Daytona if I didn't feel like it was worth the trip. They made you feel like they were listening to you while you were there. I think the decision was already made from when the wheels hit the ground. The appeal system could use a little revision but I'm not in charge of it. It was really pointless to have it. They just kind of made you feel like they were listening to you the whole time you were there. It's a little frustrating to go through all that. I feel kind of foolish now because I felt like I was getting a fair trial. It was not quite fair I guess. It'd be like NASCAR losing at appeal that we held at DEI (laughs). It was kind of tough. I've never done an appeal before so I didn't know what to expect or how they work. The whole time I was going 'what's next?' and 'what's the next step, who are we talking to here and what do you do and what influence does this particular instance have?' I tried to state my case. I thought exactly what I said and that anybody would have turned it over on the drop of a hat. I guess I feel more strongly about it than everybody else. I guess John Darby had a better argument than I did anyways. It was fun. It was interesting."
ARE YOU OVER IT?:
"I was over it when it happened. We have to race on and not worry about it. It really kind of pushed my team to race harder. We had a really good weekend at Charlotte. I'd been backing up there a little bit over the last couple of races and we pushed real hard in practice. We're just pushing harder for some reason. Everybody is stepping up a bit. If we do lose a championship, I hope it's by more than 25 points because I don't want to talk about it all winter."