DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 3rd: NOTE: Earnhardt's 3rd-place finish, combined with Jeff Gordon's 36th-place finish, vaulted Earnhardt back into second place in the points, 232 behind leader Matt ...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 3rd:
NOTE: Earnhardt's 3rd-place finish, combined with Jeff Gordon's 36th-place finish, vaulted Earnhardt back into second place in the points, 232 behind leader Matt Kenseth.
TALK ABOUT THE LATE-RACE PASS OF MICHAEL WALTRIP FOR THIRD PLACE. "I don't remember much about it. There was so much going on, so many things there at the end of the race. Me and Michael were around each other a lot there at the end. I think I got up under him off of Turn 3 and just wanted to lead a lap. I hadn't led a lap yet."
ARE YOU AS TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE AS THE FANS ARE? "Yeah, I'm getting tired of hearing it from my guys when they tell me that I need to save fuel. I don't think I've ever had anybody tell me how to save fuel. I've been around this sport a long time. I don't think anybody really knows. You put it in high gear and you hope that helps, but I don't know if it helps or not. I just sat there and rode around in high gear, pushed the clutch in and let the motor idle down the straightaway instead of putting load on it. Maybe that helped, I don't know. Those caution laps will sure save it."
WHEN YOU'RE INSIDE THE CAR, DO YOU WANT THE CREW TO TELL YOU WHEN TO PIT, OR FORGET ABOUT IT, YOU'RE JUST DRIVING THE CAR? "Yeah. It doesn't always have to be fuel mileage. It's just when the cautions kind of fall. Everybody's getting real smart about pit windows, when we can pit, should we come in this time, whatever. It's just something that's being studied really hard that wasn't a concern for anybody in the past. It's the same as two or three years ago, when it was like, two tires or four tires? That will tick you off more than anything. You'd be leading the race and see guys come out of the pits with two tires in front of you and you couldn't pass them. That upsets you more than anything. Fuel mileage, that's just part of it. You've got 22 gallons, use it however you want to use it."
YOU GOT OUT FRONT, YOU DIDN'T HAVE A SUPERIOR CAR. WAS THAT THE CASE? "Yeah, it's kind of like you have this sea, and you drive the boat down through it. You try to follow that boat's wake, and the other boat, it's probably not the smoothest ride, not the easiest deal. Now put 40 boats out there. The guy that's leading, he's got the best seat in the house and he's got the easiest job. You can go fast, you can drive your car like you want to drive it and you don't have to worry about who is in front of you or what is happening behind you. I hate talking about it, because I don't think it's ever going to go away, but when you get behind somebody, you get tight. You have this big old blade on the back of these cars, and when you put your nose up behind somebody's spoiler, there's no air on the nose and what do you say? That's why everybody's running high, down low or in the middle. If you run in the tracks of the guy in front of you, you're not going to go anywhere. It's the same everywhere, I have the aero push even at Daytona. I'd get tighter than heck going through Turns 1 and 2. That's why I'm so happy to lead the race at those plate tracks. Once you push the right front off, you can't pass. I've never really had that problem in the Busch cars, a little bit but not bad. When I went to Japan and drove up under somebody in my first Cup race, it was unbelievable."
HOW ABOUT INDIANAPOLIS? "Indianapolis will be the same way. I've been there three years and I've led each one of those races before the halfway point, and somehow or another, people start taking two tires, we get shuffled back to 12th and can't pass anybody. We were running in the top three coming up on the last pit stop there last year. I didn't think I was going to win, but I thought I would finish really good. We went in, and about 10 cars took two tires and we finished 12th. Being out front or in the top two or three is real important there."
ON THE LAST FUEL STOP, DID YOU THINK YOU COULD MAKE IT THE REST OF THE WAY? "On the last fuel stop, we figured we were a gallon short. We had a caution, ran four laps under caution and we figured we were half a gallon short. That was with 20 laps to go. We had a car blow up, the 18 car, and we ran about six laps under caution. That put us about a half-gallon to a gallon on the plus side. We were on the positive side, but we wouldn't have made it if we hadn't had the caution. What did we have to lose? No reason to come in unless you had to and we didn't have to. It worked out in our favor, but it could just as easily not have worked in our favor. I wasn't going to give up the track position, because we sat there in the back all day long with a car that could run in the top five."
WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON RYAN NEWMAN'S PERFORMANCE OVER THE LAST FEW RACES? "It's something you have to stay concerned about. The guys over there are doing awesome. They're winning races, especially here recently. He's got to be happy and proud. Everybody's got a weakness, and sooner or later that's going to come to the surface. I'm pretty happy and proud. One of the guys that works on that team is a buddy of mine and I rent a house to one of them. I like to see them win, because it helps them out. I like Ryan a lot, he's a really nice guy. But hopefully they don't do this next year, because they'll be pretty tough."