Michigan: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Tony and Dale, you two, your relationship together, you've often said you're cousins but you're more like brothers. How satisfying is this win today and the way you were able to win it to silence some of your critics...

Continued from part 1

Q: Tony and Dale, you two, your relationship together, you've often said you're cousins but you're more like brothers. How satisfying is this win today and the way you were able to win it to silence some of your critics and skeptics and to do it with a fast car and strategy and smart driving on Dale's part?

TONY EURY, JR.: I mean, I'm like Dale Junior. The winless streak has not really bothered me because I've seen him lead laps, I've seen what he's capable of doing and we've run up front, and we've had fast, fast race cars and get caught up in accidents and stuff like that.

So I feel kind of the same way he does. It's like, you love winning and you love seeing that guy's face beside of you just happy that you won, but I'm just as content because I feel the same way he does. I mean, and that's probably it's probably bad that we don't it ain't we got a fire in us but it ain't an inferno. If I can get a hold of my wife and be around people that I really enjoy being around, and I can run Top 5 every week, I would be happy with that, you know.

But winning is a bonus, and I just feel very fortunate and lucky. I mean, I've been doing this for 14 years. I've seen a lot of stuff come and I've seen a lot of stuff go, and you realize right quick that life is short, and you've got to enjoy it while you're here. I can remember times that this was all I breathe, and when you lose certain things in your life, you learn to understand that racing ain't everything.

I guess that's probably the biggest thing that's went over me in the past, and if I can see Dale Junior happy and I can run Top 5 and I can see my pit crew happy and everybody is enjoying their jobs and we can come here week in and week out, I'm perfectly happy with that. And sometimes that's why I don't go for it, or I don't put it on the line is because, you know, why take a fifth place car and run 25th? Why do something and bring the whole team down? I would rather see them up on the pedestal and the moods be good.

That's kind of been the difference over here. Me and him, we've got to get a bigger fire because Rick expects us to win every week. Last couple of years, hey, we made the Chase, that's good, and if we make it, okay, and we've had some bad luck, but we've had some good luck. I'm like him, I'm just very fortunate and thankful for everything that I've got.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Yeah, I think that you know, the hardest part I think when we first started this season, we were really happy and satisfied, lucky, worried, about our performance. We rattled off a lot of great finishes and good runs and we've been solid every week and it's been real easy to get impatient, because you see you can see up ahead what great potential we have, me and my cousin, with the team of guys we've got, you see what great potential we could have over the next couple years. And you just grow a little impatient because you want it now.

I want the car to be right, now. And we are still learning this car. We are still trying to understand what this car likes and needs, what I like about it and don't like about it. And Tony Junior is really smart in the fact that he he's real good at finding trends in my setups and themes and things that are always constant. We work around everything and we always end up, like roof springs, he doesn't have to tell me; he puts them in, and he knows, the car's faster. And that's why I like having him as a crew cheap chief, he makes me fast and I get that constantly and I get good runs.

It's just been it's a work in progress with the new team and all, but the hardest part is just not getting impatient, just wanting to get on down the street. And this win is going to help us a lot. Hopefully it opens the doors for more opportunities to win races. That's all fate, we just put ourselves in the Top 5 every week and like I said circumstances will predict our wins and Top 5s and where we finish. Me and him are both real lucky. Man, this is storybook. So I'm fortunate to have the job I've got and be in the position that I am in this sport and I'm fortunate to have my cousin on my side with me every step of the way.

So it's a hell of a lot funner than it's supposed to be and it should be, when it comes to being deserving.

RICK HENDRICK: It was a special win. You know, winning in Michigan is special, but they have been so close this year and we got to Daytona and won the clash and then the 150, I thought, man, and I said it to you in victory lane the first time, hey, this takes all the monkey off our back. We don't have to prove anything. We won a race. Maybe they didn't care; I did. I wanted to get the points win out of the way, or a win, period.

But I've been real proud of the way this team's come together and the way they work with the other teams and the growth in the organization, period. You know, it's been they have been so close and the cars run so good; I was just glad to see I saw the disappointment in your face in Richmond and saw the joy in your face here today, and that was so it's good. It's good for Junior, and he's got an awful lot of fans and they ask me the same thing every time I see them, when is junior going to win the race. Felt like that was kind of the gun to my head.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: There will be a new question and it will be just as persistent. Don't know what it is yet.

Q: Now that the win is out of the way, moving forward you can really focus on that championship; just how important are these races over the summer months going all the way up to Richmond and the potential to really challenge this year in the Chase?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I think I have real potential and the races specifically in the Chase are good tracks for me.

The summer stretch is sort of, you know, always been a difficult stretch for me. Tracks like Pocono, hit or miss, the road course races, getting them in and out of the way.

Yeah, just trying to get out of the road cars with a Top 10, you're lucky as hell. But I don't know, you know, I just the summer stretch, we've never really been smoking hot in the last eight years. We'll see, with this equipment and this opportunity that Rick's given us with these motors and these cars, we may turn that around and really sure is surprise ourselves throughout the summer.

I guess I'm in a maintain mode. I'll be real happy if I can just be as consistent as I've been the first part of the season. We go out and we race hard. I've run hard every lap. I'm qualifying every lap. But I'm smart, I don't back my car into the fence and I don't run into the side of people and spin myself out and I try not to be around people who do that.

So you know, wins, I'm working hard to get wins, but I just think we've had the best car sometimes and things have happened, and the rest of the times, we've had a Top 5 car and that's what we've got.

But we'll see. This will be interesting. I've really anticipated every weekend going to the racetrack with Hendrick Motorsports equipment, and I've been positive and eager, you know to, it get on the racetrack and see just how we measure to everyone every weekend, because I go to the racetrack, with what I feel like is the best stuff, motors and cars, and personnel. So there's, you know, you can put pressure on yourself, and say there's no excuse, but I look at it as an opportunity.

Q: It's been about six months, is he off his probation at Hendrick Motorsports yet?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Was I on probation?

Q: Just like when you get hired, after six months you get an evaluation

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I hope everybody's job don't start like that. That must have been just you. (Laughter).

RICK HENDRICK: I can't remember what race it was he told me, I just hope I get to keep my job." And I thought he was just playing with me and then I looked at him and said, "Are you serious"?

And he said, "Yeah, I'm serious."

I said, "Yeah, I think you're in good shape."

No, it's been I kind of thought, and I was concerned early on, with the new car and all, that it would take a while to get he and Tony kind of clicking in the groove, and actually he's carried the banner for us. They have done an outstanding job, and Tony Eury Junior fits right in and Jeff and Jimmie and Kasey work well together. We go test and swap cars around. We were behind when the year started because we took about six new of the old style cars to Homestead just trying to win the championship and everybody else was ahead of us and nobody waited for us.

So we've had to work awful hard here in the last few months to get back to where we were going. But as far as, I never dreamed that Junior and Tony Eury, Jr. would get as well into the company as they have, and we've had a lot of fun.

The Busch thing we've had a lot fun with, seeing that thing come around and do well. But just the effort and the chemistry is the best it's ever been, and the guys are working hard together. We are not where we want to be, but I see the momentum coming and Jimmie ran awful good today, ran good in Charlotte and Junior had the car to beat in Charlotte.

So you know, we've got a lot of work to do, but you know, we want to win the championship.  And I think
these guys    I think you look at their record so far, they can win the championship.  I think our company
has a history of coming on at the end.  I mean, we feel like that we are always working hard and we're deep
in depth of people.  Usually when the summer comes around and we get into those last ten, even looking at
Kasey last year and where he ended upcoming through the points.  We just seem to be good second half.

So, I'm looking forward to the momentum building and I'm just real proud of these guys. I think they have got a real shot to win the championship, and we're going to do everything we can to give them the tools to do it.

Q: I hate to be a jerk and ask the maudlin question, but can you talk a little bit about what it means for you to win on father's day?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Oh, man no, you're not a jerk.

It's special. You know, my daddy, he meant a lot to me. There's a lot of people that I look up to that just happen to be great fathers themselves, role models for their sons. It means a lot to me to do well on Father's Day. It's a special day for my family, special for my sister. She's very, very happy at home and in tears on the telephone so it means a lot to her. I'm glad she's as happy as she could possibly be today under circumstances. And it makes me feel good. I know I can't tell my father happy Father's Day but I get the opportunity to wish it upon all of the other far as out there, and I genuinely mean that when I say it, because that's what today is all about. It's for all of the fathers out there.

And aside from that, it's good to be in General Motors vicinity, and you know, those two things, Father's Day and you're close to Detroit, it means a lot to come here and get a win. I had not won here since the Busch Series, and it's tough to win races here. But we got won. I'm real, real happy and I'm very proud to have the trophy.

Q: (No mic.)

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I raced my daddy if I raced him in IROC, I raced him at Daytona in the Iroq race. I raced him here but then we must have ran together at IROC in Daytona in February that same year.

But you know, that's one race    since you bring that up, that's one race, that doesn't get much play, but
damn it, have y'all ever watched it?  I swear, I had him.  And it burns my ass to this day that Rusty
Wallace pushed him by me, because I wanted to beat my daddy so bad.  And I had him, and he knew it.

I'm telling you, it bothers the hell out of me because I sat behind him and he waved and waved telling me to stay there and I'm like, man I've got to run my own race here, there's only 12 of us out here, can't you fend for yourself. And I sat there like a good son until the last lap and put a good move on him and he never gave me any credit for that because knew I had his ass.

To me, I was more tired after that race than I had ever been in my life. I was physically I had to go to the infield care center get some IV after a 50 lap race if Iroq because of how hard I had worked. I had worked like ten men on that last lap. And I'm surprised that didn't get more play when people talk about me and him and our friend shipped, our relationship as father and son, because to me, that day ranks right up there with the Winston win.

And it was here, you know, and I thought it was a little bit of a phenomena to be honest with you, or some sort of a unique happenstance that that was the two guys coming down to the finish line beating and banging on each other and that doesn't really get a lot of play. But I look back, I got that, it's in my bookmarks, on YouTube so I can watch it just about any time I want.

Q: Just continuing on that previous question about winning on Father's Day, can you put this victory in some type of perspective with all of the other great ones, considering this has been two years since you've won and this comes on Father's Day, with your all time great wins, how would you rank it?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I would rank it in the Top 5. You know, there's a lot of great little things that plug into this win, and that's being with Rick; winning with him is a whole lot of fun and a great, great feeling. The people that he put around me that he trusted to help me, look after me, get me started, winning with them. Winning with my new team and Joanie, Junior what it is going to mean, like I said to my sister and my family and my mom, Mike Davis was not here this weekend; JR came to give Mike a weekend off. Amy, she's been great.

We all lean on each other all weekend long to get through the weekend and do the best we can and everybody has done such a great job. There's just a lot of neat things. We were joking that I'll have a little more real estate in Hendrick, going to throw some winners banners up. Just a lot of great little nitpick things. We get to do a lot of media this week and talk about our win that we've been trying to get for so long. Our sponsors get to celebrate in their own way however that is. We get to hear from them, which will be great.

Before this season, I don't know, I guess you had seen sponsors sharing a car before, but these guys truly do share this car with each other, willingly and happily work in unison together, speaking of amp and the guard. So they have sacrificed a little bit of exposure to each other to be a part of this so I'm really happy with them.

Like I said, there's a lot of things that I can't realize yet that will tie into this win so just looking forward to the next couple hours and days and seeing them reveal themselves to me.

Q: We've sat here in this media center and heard Jack Roush talk about how important it is for the manufacturer, and Chevy has not won here since 2001; can you just talk about that and what it means to you?

RICK HENDRICK: The manufacturers do put a lot of importance on this race and I remembered that coming up here today in 2001, my dad was really sick in Charlotte and I was with him when Jeff won, and that was our 100th win and that was here. We get an awful lot of calls prior to and after this Michigan race from Chevrolet and all of the General Motors people.

So it's a lot of pressure, and we always try to run good here and it's been a dry spell this year for Chevrolet. I know they were excited, they were here this morning and we were working with them trying to get us a little help in the Busch area or the nationwide area with some motor.

So anyway, it's real special, all employees, a lot of the folks in the stands are Ford employees and GM employees. Everybody wants bragging rights and they have been a big sponsor for a long time so really good to do it here.

Q: Stiffy has taken a lot of criticism and a lot of people just don't understand the relationship the two of you share. For the people out there, the doubters, everybody who has pointed to him and said it was his fault, and to win a race like this, where you have to have the ultimate trust in the person who is calling the shots for you, can you put this all into perspective?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Well, I tell you one thing. It goes it's a little underestimated, but that trust is there every time I climb in the car. I wouldn't choose this job. I would go do something else if I didn't believe in my crew chief and didn't have faith in what kind of race car he built. And if I didn't have that option and opportunity, I don't feel like that this would be very enjoyable.

I'm his worst critic; he's my worst critic.  We want the best for each other.  We want to see each other
have an amazing time at this, and see each other just experience so much success.  But you know if we are
feeling like    and working together, if we feel like we want the most for each other and that's not
happening or if I feel like    this works both ways, like he feels the same way I do.

But if I feel like he's not going down the right path on any given Saturday or Friday, we talk about it, and we talk about it in our own way. There's times where we get together in the room, close the door and we just go at it, and it's great, because I don't want to go back and sit in the bus or stand around in the garage biting my lip and get angry. We've got to go at it, and it's great. Because by the time it's over, we get the result we want, and especially with this opportunity and this equipment. And we go, man, thanks for hanging in there. We did the right thing; this worked out.

There's a lot of things that you can do and there's a lot of things that you do as a driver as you get better and older in the sport and you become more professional in the way you talk and how you handle things and there's things you quit saying and there's times you stick your foot in your mouth less often, and you dress differently, better, whatever. But there's one thing that I'll never change and that's how me and Tony junior work together and people have just got to get used to it, and that's just how we are. That is that and we ain't going nowhere. When we win, obviously the big problems are little problems and the little problems are gone.

But as long as we work together, which I hope is forever, we're going to go at it because that's just how we want the best for each other. We want the best out of each other. You can write that story if that's what you want to write for the rest of your career, you can right it, because it will always be there. We just go at it and I think it's important.

If I show up on a race weekend, and Tony Junior and if I have to go out there and give 80 percent, and Tony junior doesn't chew my ass, I'm going to be disappointed. I'm going to be worried. He pushes me, and I need it, and I push him to make sure he's doing what he's supposed to do. I think it's old school, our ways of doing it, hell, we MF each other on the radio stuff, but I think it's old school. It's been there for years.

You should have heard Suitcase Jake and my daddy when he worked on the Busch team in the mid 80s way after Jake was I don't remember what Jake was like when he was with Daddy on the Cup side in 79, the 80s, but in the mid 80s they went to work together on the Busch car, and that lasted a week. So we ain't nowhere near as bad as they were.

You know, as unhealthy as it sounds, as unhealthy it took our team our team would look around like what the hell is going on. It takes people a while, but as unhealthy as it sounds, and it's healthy. It's a healthy part of how we get our end result. He's one of the few people in this world where I can lay it down; and I can even be wrong, you know what I mean, but I can tell him like it is and even if I'm wrong, terribly wrong, he doesn't change exactly how he feels about me. I'm fortunate. I know there's other great crew chiefs out there, but in my mind, he will be considered at the end of this whole deal in my mind, he'll be considered one of the greatest, and I don't want to get beat by him.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys, very much.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jack Roush , Mike Davis
Teams Hendrick Motorsports