Phoenix: Earnhardt Jr - Friday media visit

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed racing at Phoenix, Whiskey River's anniversary, his new diet and other topics. HOW IS YOUR CAR? "Cars...

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed racing at Phoenix, Whiskey River's anniversary, his new diet and other topics.

HOW IS YOUR CAR? "Cars pretty good -- we're working on it. We have another one to go -- they're always good in the first practice. Second practice seems to be the one that's more like the race and how your cars going to be in the race. We're pretty good. I ran a sticker run there at the end and we're good and free and good and loose and it's definitely, probably going to get tighter from here on -- the track is."

HOW WAS YOUR OFF-WEEK?  "It was good -- it was pretty quiet.
 I'm always having fun.  I had a good time."

ARE YOU PROUD OF YOUR ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF 'WHISKEY RIVER?' "Yeah, actually -- some bars don't make it that long I guess. I'm pretty happy. We're doing pretty good down there and we're having a good time. Employees are enjoying themselves and it's pretty fun. That whole deal in the epicenter is really growing. It's fun to be in there with everybody that's having success right now and the way the economy is going -- the epicenter is doing pretty good. It's pretty cool."

IS PHOENIX A DRIVER'S TRACK? "The car is really important. It takes something special to make a car work really good here. Obviously some drivers can do a lot with whatever kind of car they've got. Mark (Martin) and Jeff Burton were always like that -- Jeff always liked this track and he always seems to get good finishes. Jeff (Gordon) and those guys do too. I think it's real important to have a good handling car obviously because its so different each corner and it's real tricky trying to be real good through turn one and two -- good enough to win. There's a lot of people here who can get their cars good enough to all race the hell out of each other for the top-10 spots, but there's going to be one or two guys that really hit on it to get their cars to get through the center of one and two and those are the guys that will be racing for the win. That seemed to be what we did when we won here was we beat everybody right down there in the middle of that corner and every time we could do that we would win. That seems to be the trick that everyone works on -- at least that's what I work on in practice."

WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN JIMMIE JOHNSON SAYS YOU HAVE TO BE MORE PHYSICAL WITH THE CAR TO WIN HERE? "This track gets greasy and there's some speed out there and a little bit of extra time out there and if you can hustle the car -- you have to really challenge the brakes on every corner. There's no real pace that you can back-up to and run comfortably and take care of your equipment.

"You have to challenge and charge every corner and challenge the brakes to slow the car down for the middle every corner and there is just a lot of real aggressive powering down on exit every time and in the center of three and four you just kind of charge the tires into the center of the corner and aggressively trying to whip the backend around to get the car to exit the corner. That seems to be faster than taking it easy or being smooth as they say."

IS ANYONE USING YOUR NAME AND TYPING FOR YOU ON TWITTER? "I don't have anything on Twitter as far as I know of. There's tons of imposters out there. I don't have a MySpace, a Twitter or none of that crap. There's a bunch of imposters out there though that you have to beware of. I really would never get into social networking -- it's just a dangerous area to be involved in, especially if you're high profile so I think it's smart for me to stay in the regular social networks -- the ones I can see, you know."

HOW IS YOUR GRANDMA (MARTHA EARNHARDT) DOING?  "She's doing
good -- she's been rehabbing her hip and everything.  We're
always thinking about her.  She's always in good spirits."

HAVE YOU STARTED WATCHING YOUR DIET DAILY OR OCCASIONALLY? "No, it's daily. I totally -- me and my family got together and they sort of help me on my grocery shopping a little bit so I just got everybody that was responsible for doing any of the grocery shopping around the house or anything like that or for the bus or whatever and we just totally changed exactly what we were going to eat. We got away from all the chips and Doritos and those type of things and just got rid of all the things that are laying there for you to snack on and there's a lot of things that are healthy for you that I enjoy eating."

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HEALTHY SNACK FOOD? "I like lemon pepper tuna and Triscut crackers -- that's really good. My mom turned me on to both of those actually. I always liked tuna, but I can eat a can of that for dinner and some Triscuts and I'm good to go. I still eat a steak and rice on the weekends. You've got to have protein and stuff like that, but just cutting out a lot of the nonsense like the ice creams and chips and stuff which I feel a lot better and I've actually seen a little difference on the scale so I'm excited about that. I used to weigh about 172 and I would like to get around 165 so I would like to lose about seven pounds and I would be happy."

IS IT SAD THAT THERE IS NO NUMBER EIGHT AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND? "I'm pretty sad, but I don't think it will be gone for long. I read a lot of the input that you guys (media) had all week and sort of got the temperature of what the press was thinking and what the fans were thinking. The one thing that I kept thinking about when I was reading those articles was how glad I was that Robert (Yates) and Doug (Yates) and everybody at Yates -- that they were willing to work with me on the 88 because I don't have any malice about what Teresa's (Earnhardt) decision was on keeping that number.

"If I was in her shoes I probably would have done the exact same thing and that has been the case with every other owner in the past. That's what the understanding is that the number belongs to them and I understood that. I really wasn't as upset about it as a lot of people probably thought I was and it wasn't as ugly of a situation as a lot of people felt like it was. I was glad that I found Robert (Yates) and the guys willing to talk about the 88 because that was a number with a ton of history and something that I could really wrap my hands around and get excited about. The eight will be back and someone else will add to it and do something great with it and hopefully it's Ganassi and Teresa (Earnhardt). Hopefully they can get it back on the race track and I wouldn't ever count them out. It's a tough economy. I just wish them all the success and I wish that they will get that car funded to where Aric (Almirola) can get back on the race track, he's a super guy and needs to be out on the race track with us and I think it's small pieces to the puzzle really. I don't think it's something that's going to be permanent, hopefully."

DO YOU THINK YOUR GRANDMA (MARTHA EARNHARDT) IS UPSET ABOUT THE NUMBER NOT BEING HERE? "No, not at all. She especially, we have been around this sport for a long time and you have to get used to change and I've worked with a lot of different people. Some I wish today I was still working with, but circumstances prevented that and you have to be able to let go of that and move on and try to do the best you can. That's the same way in every situation in this sport. Yes I wish I would have never had to have changed numbers -- I had to under the circumstances and I am happy to have the opportunity to use the 88 and I hope I do a good job with it for all the guys that have used it in the past. That's really the only thing that I think about right now. Having that number there's a little bit of responsibility with it because it was pretty historic so I must concentrate on that, you know?"

WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU TO GIVE DIRECTION FOR THE NEW GPS FOR THE FANS? "Well, we are always coming up with neat ideas I guess to give the fans opportunities. Hopefully they're excited about the GPS and I don't know if it's the best GPS out there, but I certainly had fun doing the voice for it and putting it together and hopefully some of the NASCAR fans out there find it enjoyable and find it entertaining. I'm just scratching the surface, we'll see what comes out in the next year or two -- maybe we opened the flood gate. It took a long time -- there was a lot of quotes. We had about five sheets of stuff we had to read over and over and over and over and over. It took a long time. It was pretty much dead-on, I would never associate myself or say anything that I didn't feel like I would say in normal conversation with somebody in most case I guess. We really didn't have to change too much from the original script of what they really wanted. There was a couple things we adjusted."

DO YOU LIKE THE TWO-DAY SHOW HERE IN PHOENIX? "I love it man. It reminds me a lot of racing back in 1998 and 1999 with the Busch Series -- you come in and couldn't believe you were working this job for a living and you worked for two days and you would be home on Sunday and be able to do stuff with your family.

"We're always sitting around here and hearing all the cool stuff that our families are doing on Sunday and so I get to go home and if I can get tough I can stay up with them all day on Sunday and make something out of it. I guess I am more happy about it being this weekend because I don't like coming to the west coast all that much. It's just so far from home -- I don't have any problem with the area, I just don't like traveling that far and being that far away from my home. To have to come here and work for two days, it's great weather and the fans obviously really love this place. It makes for a calm weekend. I love racing on Saturdays. We always start them Sunday races so late and I really, really hate that. Being around the race track at seven o'clock on Sundays -- I don't feel like that's the way it should be. They're going to start these races late on Saturdays -- that's okay. Racing on Saturday night is fun."

DO YOU WANT TO RACE ON SATURDAY NIGHT EVERY WEEK? "Every week? Why not."

IS THAT THE BIGGEST THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT THE SCHEDULE? "No, it's not the biggest thing I would do. I would shorten the schedule up. We work too long -- the season is too long. I would shorten it and then the next year I would want to put it back. It's probably perfect the way it is -- we probably need to stop complaining and go race."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT STEWART-HAAS RACING NOW VERSUS LAST YEAR? "I don't want to discredit anything that (Scott) Riggs and 'Bootie' (Robert Barker) and all those guys did for us in the past. I was only there last year and I saw a lot of things that they actually did that we used and used with success. Working with Tony (Stewart) has always been great. Anytime you can work with him -- he's a racer and it's fun to work with him. He wants to help you if you're tight and you ask him about his car. He wants to help you and so he's great. (Ryan) Newman and myself I think have became better friends over the last couple years and he's going to drive our Busch car this year some so it's going to be kind of neat getting to know him better and that whole team I had worked with those guys for so long and I missed them dearly over the last couple years so it's great to be side-by-side with them in the garage and Tony Gibson (crew chief) has come such a long way and having so much success as a crew chief now. I think it's great. Everything on that end couldn't be better in my opinion and Tony (Stewart) has done and incredible job building the team or working the team into what it is today. It's unbelievable what he's been able to do in such a short time. He deserves an amazing amount of credit. He has a niche -- he just has that quality about him to be able to do those types of things and I don't think you'll see anything short of the success they're having now in the future."

HAVE YOU STARTED GETTING INTO WORKING OUT? "I just changed my diet a lot and I'm running a little bit. I'm not running as much as I probably should, but I'm running. The biggest part for me was just changing my diet, it was really whatever I wanted it to be. I got into more of a responsible, concerted effort or paying attention to what I'm doing there and it's definitely made a difference I think.

"I feel more confident and more positive and feel better energy-wise. I was just eating strictly a junk food diet ever since I was 18 -- as soon as I got out of the house. There's a lot of good food out there I guess that tastes pretty good -- I was just too lazy to go buy it. We really had to put our heads down and find a lot of stuff that tastes good that I enjoy and we got creative and I found a good little package that I can go through during the week that I enjoy. We actually are working with a company, Tasteful Solution I think is the name of it -- they make meals. They're not really health food nuts, but it's better than four or five pizzas and Bojangles everyday."

HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT YOU FEEL BETTER? "I just notice an overall difference in everyday and of course on Sunday for sure. I would argue with Rick (Hendrick) or anybody all day long that my physical shape was affecting me on Sunday, but I was getting a little bit of a gut and that and just wasn't giving a damn whether I did or not. I want to be physically fit and I guess you can't wait until your 40 or 45 years old to start worrying about that because it's too late. You don't want to go to your doctor one day and get your physical and they tell you that you're cholesterol is too high. That's not the kind of wake up call that you want to have to start taking better care of yourself. I just wanted to be proactive."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton