DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET -- QUALIFIED 3RD: ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN: "Well the car was pretty good for the practice run and then when we went to go qualifying, I figured it had a little more grip because ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET -- QUALIFIED 3RD:
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:
"Well the car was pretty good for the practice run and then when we went to go qualifying, I figured it had a little more grip because of the temperature and all being down being late in the afternoon, but the balance was about the same if not a little bit freer. It was really good when we put it in qualifying trim during practice. I felt really happy about that. And to be able to go out there and be able to run good again and back it up and the car to still be the same and be good and be comfortable."
DID YOU GET EVERYTHING OUT OF THE LAP YOU THOUGHT? AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT YOU ALWAYS QUALIFY WELL HERE?
"Yeah, I think I really didn't get through Turn 1 as good as I could have. I might have left a little bit in the tunnel. Turn 3 and 4 I probably could have picked the gas up just a little bit sooner. I don't know. You just never know. But I felt like I got through the tunnel pretty good and I think Kyle (Busch) went through there about two-tenths faster than everybody else. There is a lot of speed in that tunnel and it's hard to find it. But that's really where a lot of time can be made up. I felt pretty good about my lap and I was just hoping to be able to do what we did in practice, and we did."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON WHAT THIS KID (KYLE BUSCH) HAS BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH IN 200 STARTS? CAN YOU REFLECT ON A YEAR OF DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS?
"Yeah, I think Kyle is one of the most talented drivers in the series. What he's been able to do in such a short period of time and winning a lot of races is pretty incredible. What he's been able to do on the race track and everybody sees what he can do with a race car, no matter what it is; whether it's a truck or a Nationwide car or a CoT.
He makes it fast and he's gotten in a lot of different peoples they drive in the Nationwide Series he drives for a different group here and there every once in a while over the last couple of years. He's always been quick. It's pretty cool to see him grow up a little bit and he was pretty rough around the edges. I remember it was Daytona somewhere we were all hard on his case about something that had happened and he's come a long way since then. Everybody goes through it, I think. I had all the Cup regulars chewing my ass at Daytona too when I first showed up. It's pretty cool. In just a short period of time he has basically become one of the veterans on the circuit, quicker than any other driver I can really recall in the last couple of decades. As young as he is, there is no limit to what he'll be able to accomplish in the sport.
"What do I think about double-file restarts? I think it's fine. For some reason, I think at most race tracks it kind of benefits you to be in the outside line. That's kind of unfortunate when you have a lot of late restarts and you keep getting stuck in the inside line every damn time because you just keep losing a couple spots and then there's another wreck and then you're on the inside again. You can really lose a lot of track position that way (by) just being unfortunate. It really makes it exciting and a lot of fun if you have a good car, it's a quick way to make up some spots. It's real challenging to pass in the second half or the last two-thirds of a tire run. It's so much harder to pass cars so you can make up a lot of positions there if you're quick and clever on them restarts."
LAST YEAR, YOU ACTUALLY HAD A GOOD QUALIFYING RUN HERE BUT IT RAINED OUT AND YOU DIDN'T GET TO SHOW FOR IT. YOU'VE ALSO HAD 2 SECONDS HERE. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO ON SUNDAY TO PARLAY THIS INTO A GREAT FINISH?
"I think the difference between me finishing good here and not finishing good, most of the time we just struggle trying to get the car to turn through the center really getting down into Turn 1, the car wants to go straight into that corner so bad and rolling on the bump stops down in that corner too hard. It's just real hard to get a car to get a positive nose down into Turn 1. Getting comfortable enough to be able to be fast through the tunnel all day long is important. A lot of times you can just make a small adjustment and really kill the exit of the tunnel or get the car where it won't turn in there. But the corners are so different it's so easy to try to improve one thing and just screw up something that wasn't even a problem. So, when we've run good, we've had awesome race cars. Hopefully we'll have another one. We had a pretty good one in qualifying. We tried some race trim stuff. It was all right, but we've got some gains to make."
HOW CAN THIS QUALIFYING EFFORT BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE AND WHAT WOULD A GOOD RUN ON SUNDAY DO TO KICK START YOUR SEASON?
"We were qualifying pretty good at the start of the year. We had a pole and a couple of top 10 qualifying runs strong together there and felt pretty confident about our qualifying package because we weren't good at all last year. Then we sort of lost it a little bit. But I don't know, you now. We've had a terrible month. We left Charlotte and came down here and I have qualified pretty good here in the past and we had a good run today.
"We ran our race trim stuff and I still see where we're missing some things and we need to gain a little bit tomorrow. So hopefully we'll get some time on the track and the weather will stay away. Every little thing helps the confidence. We didn't prove nothing to nobody outside the race track by qualifying there. But to ourselves, it helps our confidence a little bit as a team."
-source: gm racing