Phoenix: Earnhardt Jr. - Friday media visit

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed racing at Phoenix, his team's progress to date and other topics. HOW IS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE TODAY? "It...

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed racing at Phoenix, his team's progress to date and other topics.

HOW IS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE TODAY? "It is pretty good. Felt like we got a little loose in qualifying (trim) and hit the apron a little bit but I believe we were still pretty fast. I feel like we can get a little bit better there. Track really really got slick for everybody today. We feel like about the middle of the first practice was about where we were best so we will probably go back to there with a few extra changes."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DENNY (HAMLIN) DRIVING ONLY NINE DAYS AFTER KNEE SURGERY? "He knows what he can and can't do and I'm not worried about it one bit. Whatever he decides to do, it is his decision. I don't think it is going to be any problem for him. Hopefully he can run the full race."

TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON AND WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW: "We have got a long way to go, I'll tell you that. We feel pretty confident about getting better but we still feel like we have a lot to work and a lot more than we can do better. We definitely can be a much stronger race team. But we are seeing some good signs we are heading in the right direction. I am encouraged."

TALK ABOUT RACING AT PIR AND WHAT WOULD A WIN MEAN HERE? "Well you know, to get a win anywhere would be great. But I like this race track and hopefully the race track is in good shape tomorrow. It is so slick today. Hopefully it will be a little bit better tomorrow so we can get a little bit more grip and have some better racing out there, it is pretty slick right now."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM ADDING LAPS TO THE RACE HERE? "I thought it was pretty good how it was. You know, it is whatever they want to do. Just have to go a little longer."

DO YOU HAVE MORE TO DEAL WITH HERE AT PHOENIX IN TERMS OF ITS UNIQUENESS? "I think all tracks have those sort of characteristics. Every track has those little things about them. It was a good race at 300K or 500K or whatever the hell it was, it was fine. I don't know why they added it. I guess they got tired of it being a gas mileage race, but that has nothing to do with the length. That has everything to do with everybody's strategies during the race."

WITH THE SUCCESS OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TEAMS WINNING THE LAST SIX RACES HERE, DOES THAT ADD ANY MORE PRESSURE ON YOU HERE? "It doesn't add any more pressure. We use as much from those guys as we can every week. We know that their track record is really good at all the race tracks, we just try to lean on them as much as we can and see what parts of what they are doing can help us every week."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OF THE FAST START JIMMIE HAS ON THE SEASON AND HIS BEING FAVORED FOR ANOTHER TITLE? "He is going to be hard to beat. He has won the past several championships and definitely the favorite to win as many as he puts his mind to. Hopefully we can be a part of the battle. I am not worried about trying to dethrone Jimmie; I just want to be up there fighting for it. That would be step in the right direction for us."

HOW HARD IS IT FOR A DRIVER TO GET OUT OF HIS CAR DURING A RACE DUE TO INJURY FROM A PRIDE PERSPECTIVE? "Not for me it didn't. My burns were bothering me pretty bad; I didn't want to be in the car any more. It felt weird watching my car run around but we were having such a miserable day anyway it would have really bothered me more if I had a good car. Chances are Denny (Hamlin) will have a good car and those are probably difficult to hand over."

TALK ABOUT KELLY BIRES AND LANDON CASSILL IN YOUR NATIONWIDE CARS: "We they are trying to get some good runs over there. They are working hard. We're not really satisfied at all with the finishes we have been getting. We're just hoping they can hit the right package for each driver and have some good runs come their way. Landon is going to get a couple of runs and give him the opportunity to show off his skills. We'll see how it goes."

HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN THOSE DECISIONS? "Not really involved. I have got Tony (Eury), Jr., Kelley (Earnhardt) and others. They sort of bounce around those ideas. I don't get really in the middle of it. I have been really working hard trying to stay away from everything but the Cup car this year. Just trying to think about what I need to do to keep doing right with it."

-source: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup