Michigan: Earnhardt Jr - GM top-ten interview

Behind The Hauler Chat, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS How much do you get out of racing video games? "I get a lot out of them. You got to understand...

Behind The Hauler Chat, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS


How much do you get out of racing video games?

"I get a lot out of them. You got to understand that we're talking about video games on a computer, not on a traditional platform like X-Box and Playstation. The ones that they have on Pentium computers and stuff like that are pretty realistic. I learn a lot of road-course type stuff on there and a lot of Formula One and IRL. A lot of IndyCar drivers use simulators just like that. I run a lot of road course stuff and try to practice on shifting and matching revs. Not necessarily how to drive a circle race track. Of course, if you've never been somewhere it's a good place to get an idea of what it's gonna be like. That's as far as that goes. There's some bad habits you pick up in a race car. One of the ones that had when I first started racing was when I raced, I held on to the shifter with one hand and held myself up in the seat with the shifter. It beats up the shifter and the shifter pops out of gear when you're running the race. So I practiced shifting and getting my hand back on the wheel and that helped out a lot.

How is the rivalry between you and Denny Hamlin when it comes to online racing?

Well, when I raced Denny he's really, really hard to beat, to be honest with you. It's not often that that I do outrun him in video games. He's a talent. He's kind of one of those guys who comes out on the good end. He's got a lot of common sense and he really enjoys what he does. He always outruns me on video games.

About the retro paint sceme - does the color affect you?

I can't really see the paint from inside the car so I guess it don't.

On the track compared to last year:

A little bit better. Last year we had ok cars. Working with Jr., he's got a little bit better handle on it today. Optimistic about the times I ran in race trim compared to the other guys I saw in race trim, I was really optimistic.

Can you win here?

Sooner or later. I don't know. I think that as good a driver as I am and as good of a team I'm with, sooner or later I'm bound to win at every one of them. We had to adjust the setup a little bit and just try to really click on something. We're pretty decent right now but there's some guys that have found things and have things to make the cars really fast. We just got to figure out what that is.

What's your mindset?

You just try to be positive about all of them. When I was a rookie and you had a bad attitude about any of them you was just making it worse on yourself. I look forward to really coming to Richmond because of the multi grooves that it has. We have had some pretty good cars here. it's a matter of time before we get a good top five or a win.

How much pressure is there on you compared to someone like Jeff Gordon:

He's got nothing to prove to anybody. He's won championships and races and if he stopped driving tomorrow and retire, not that he's even hinted it, he's got nothing to prove to anybody so the only person it should be bothering is him as far as he's got to be frustrated on how he's running. But he's got nothing to prove to anybody.

When you race against guys online, how good are they?

Kevin's the best. Denny's right up there with Kevin. Denny's one of the top five. I don't do it all that much during the week. I try to jump in there and race when they race but I don't really practice and test like they do. So when I get out there I'm normally not as acclimated to the track as they are so I try not to cause too much trouble. If I finish in the top 10 I'm pretty happy. It's a lot of fun though. If you saw how realistic it was you'd be surprised. Some of the new games they come out with, especially some of the road course stuff is pretty impressive. Most of it's European where F1 is really big. Some of the guys use this stuff and they demand a lot of realism and you get pretty good games from that direction. Some of the NASCAR games on the PC, specifically one that I don't endorse, but it's a 2003 version of a game that continuously has been updated by some guys that broke the code. It's pretty much over all of our heads here.

"It does help. It helps me; it helps Denny. We wouldn't be joking about that. That's a hobby of mine I feel very strong about and I wouldn't say it didn't help me if I wasn't serious about it. Some of the guys that do play the video games that I play, some of the more serious ones, that don't race, when they hear they don't help or they're not realistic from other drivers it really upsets them. That kind of exposure really helps them."

Michigan is the most forgiving virtual track. Does that translate to reality?

Yeah. Here and California, the big, wide moderately-banked tracks where there's not a lot of transition into the corner going into the banking. Just smooth, down in the bottom, a lot of room. Really there's not a perfect line. It's definitely a good place for a starter.

Do you run better on a virtual version of this track?

This is more popular. A good place for a starter. I run better on here too.

Do you feel like road course racing really has a place in NASCAR?

Yeah, because it's fun. It's enjoyable for the drivers to get some time under your belt.

Do you feel like it should be in the Chase?

No, don't like it that much. In a perfect world it would be in the Chase and I think it deserves a spot much more than a plate track where it's pretty much rollin the dice. In a road course you are in control of where you finish. In a perfect world it should be in there but I believe most drivers and teams rather it not be in there. To the true enthusiast it would be.

On Sonoma:

I've had some really really good race cars the last couple of times I was there. I haven't been able to capitalize. Tore a transmission up. I was really fast in practice and really happy with my car the last two years and I've been making mistakes and the car's broke a couple times. I really just want to get a top ten. I've had a car that's capable of going in the top five but I just really want a top 10.

On keeping your good run going:

It's always good to run good. It's never more or most important but the road course or even a plate track is the one that's unknown, so to speak. Even some of the best road course ringers aren't guaranteed finishes there. Pretty much anything can happen. So many opportunities to make mistakes. Here, you go around two corners. Two chances, two opportunities to crash. At Sonoma, it's any moment. Even on the straight, something wrong with a gear, you give it too much gas. Anywhere, anything. I still enjoy it though. I didn't at first but now it's something I enjoy.

On documentary on your father:

I've seen a little bit of it, I saw something about six or eight months ago. My sister has seen it more recently. She really likes it so if she likes it I tell you I have to like it.

Do you feel better about it than 3?

The 3 movie was a good movie and those guys really put a lot of effort into it so you can tell there's a lot of effort in it. I really had a lot of fun watching that movie. For the purpose it served it was fine. But this documentary that's out now is him. It's pictures and footage of him. Anything you do is going to be biased so I don't know if there's the right person to do a documentary about anybody. No matter who does it it's going to be biased.

Is it too early for something like that?

Kind of. More time would have been good but at the same time, if ESPN would have waited to do the 3 movie I think when Theresa was ready she would have worked on it with them and it would have been really, really good. They weren't willing to wait. They wanted to shoot it out of the box as fast as they could. That's sort of the way of the world and your hand is forced.

Talk about Bill Lester:

Bill's out there doing pretty good. I've looked at some of his times. He's had a tough couple weeks in the last month with the Trucks and I think he enjoys the Cup cars drive. I really don't know much about how good his team is in the Truck series and how good this team is. It's hard to tell really what his opportunities are here. He seems to like and do better in the Cup cars as far as speed.

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Bill Lester , Denny Hamlin