Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed scoring a repeat win at Michigan, thoughts of how team is performing as Chase approaches, his crew...
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed scoring a repeat win at Michigan, thoughts of how team is performing as Chase approaches, his crew chief, Tony Eury, Jr., saving gas on-track and other subjects.
HOW WAS PRACTICE TODAY? "It was good. I was pretty happy. I think I could have run a little quicker if we had got back out there. Got a pretty good car. Ran some race stuff early, seems like the qualifying stuff is going to get us up in the top 10. I am pretty happy."
WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON WITH THE TEAM THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS SINCE YOU WON HERE THAT SEEMS TO HAVE YOUR FRUSTRATED? "Just the race tracks we have been going to. I don't have good finishes at those race tracks. Couple of road courses, Pocono, It is just typically not a good part of the season where we have run very good. We are always strong at the races the first third and last third of the season."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING BACK TO RICHMOND? "Yea, I am looking forward to the last third of the season. We seem to do really well at all them race tracks. We seem to gain a lot of points, or have the ability to gain a lot of points in those two stretches, the first and last part of the season. I figured the summer would be rough and it was. I don't know why that is other than, there aren't any favorite race tracks of mine in that little stretch. That is one thing I know for sure. We tried the best we could to get through that stretch pretty good and do better. I don't know, I wasn't no happier about it than I have been in the past. Starting here, we will start to see some improvement and start a run like we have been running at the start of the year. Like I think we are capable of doing."
DO YOU LIKE HOW YOUR TEAM IS RUNNING AS THE CHASE GETS CLOSER? "No, we haven't been running that good lately. We are coming up on some tracks where we run pretty good. I like the tracks and I like my chances."
HAVING WON HERE IN JUNE, HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR CHANCES FOR REPEATING? "It would be nice you know. It would be good to get another win to show everybody we can do it on a full tank of gas. It would be a good to get a win anywhere, but Michigan is a good place because of the manufacturers being close. Being close to Detroit, Motor City."
IS IT UNFAIR TO GET CRITICIZED FOR HOW YOU WIN A RACE? SHOULDN'T JUST WINNING THE RACE BE ENOUGH? "Yes. But, I mean, it depends on what side of the fence you are on, man. If you are on the winning side, you are happy, don't matter how. If you are the guy who had the fastest car all day, you aren't real happy about it. I have been on both sides of it, it goes down in the history books however it goes do in there, you know. Everybody would like to just go out there and just out run the hell out of everybody to win races. Sometimes you have to take them how you get them."
ARE YOU AND JEFF GORDON FACING THE SAME KINDS OF CHALLENGES? "I think we are facing different stuff. I have just never ran good at the tracks that are in the middle of the season. It is funny that they are all together, but maybe that is kind of good. Jeff has just kind of struggled with the car a little bit here and there all year, you know. I think by the time we are in the Chase, they seem to have it turned around. Hopefully we will have that too."
IS THE "RIBBING" YOUR CREW CHIEF HAS TAKEN THIS WEEK FAIR OR UNFAIR? "It ain't fair. I mean, I know that nobody always makes the right calls and I know that everyone has to take responsibility for their actions. Everybody has to take responsibility for their job. He is in that position and he knows as good as anybody that there is going to be some criticism. But, I don't know man; it is pretty harsh at time for a guy for a guy who has given everything he has given to the sport. A guy that has dedicated himself and devoted himself, sacrificed as much as he has, it gets kind of harsh sometimes. I wish it wasn't like that for Tony, Jr. (Eury) because he don't deserve it. But, working with me, I guess that is the breaks.
"I can say this, I don't think the pit stop strategy ruined the race any more than how bad our car was handling or running at that particular part of the race. I was going backwards as it was, so it ain't like we screwed ourselves on pit strategy. The car wasn't that good, we just kind of stayed out there longer than anybody else, it was fun to lead. Hell, I didn't want to pit either. You know what I mean; I was leading the race - that was fun.
"We had some problems with the car. It was very very fast at the start of the race. But, that wasn't the car I had there the last half of that race, I didn't have that good of car. I don't think many people that are very critical of Tony, Jr., knew that. I try to describe how the situation is without trying to take anything away from Tony, Jr. because he is a really really good crew chief and he has done a lot for me and other drivers in this sport. He has helped a lot of crew members and taught a lot of things to a lot of different guys as he has come up. He is not a real volatile personality and he is not the kind of personality that you probably expect to have on this type of team with this magnitude of a team.
"He is just a good 'ole guy, you know. I wish it was different for him, but oh well. He is pretty tough and I feel like when it comes down to it he will prove to everybody, yea, we are human, we make mistakes, but he is damn sure the guy for the job in my opinion."
DO YOU THINK HE IS IN ONE OF THE MOST SCRUTINIZED POSITIONS IN THE SPORT? "He is in one of them, sure. Right now, I don't know if it will be like that for a long, long time, but he has a lot of people to answer to, just like I do and just like the rest of the team. The team itself, when they don't do right or have a problem or whatever, you know, they have to deal with it. That is part of being in this sport man. You know, you have to live up to all expectations and you have to meet some expectations, you get paid a lot of money to do. There is a lot of good things about it too. He had a bad, he said he didn't read any of the papers or listen to anybody and so, I said, that was all right, its good. We will move on. When I am in the race car out on the race track, I can't do the math and try to figure out what the strategy is that he has planned and we don't' talk about that before the race. Sometimes the best laid plans never work out. I don't know what his strategy; I didn't have a problem with what it was. It was definitely the wrong call to make in hindsight, but again, even if we make the right call and stay on the same strategy with those other guys, we got a 25th or 30th place car at best because he had some issues with the suspension. I like the way the man does his job and I am glad he is helping me. I have his back and he's got mine. Regardless if he makes that mistake again this week, we will try to learn from it and move on."
WHEN YOU ARE TOLD TO SAVE FUEL WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS? "Get mad because you don't want to save, you just want to run hard. It is just a lot of work. It is a pain in the butt really. It is a lot of work and you don't know if what you are doing is saving gas or not. You don't know what you are accomplishing and it's no fun."
HOW FAMILIAR ARE YOU WITH THE TERM HYPERMILING? "What is that?"
ESSENTIALLY WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING ON THE HIGHWAY NOW, COASTING AND STUFF LIKE THAT TO STOP LIGHTS AND EASING AWAY FROM STOP LIGHTS TO TRY AND GET BETTER GAS MILEAGE. "Well, that is cool."
-credit: gm racing