DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed racing at Richmond, his season to date, driving the No. 3, racing at Darlington and other topics. TALK...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed racing at Richmond, his season to date, driving the No. 3, racing at Darlington and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE TODAY? "It was pretty hot out there. The car was real slick and just tried to work on the car the best we could and make the changes. I feel like we made some good changes and learned a little bit."
HOW IS THE SPOILER? "It drives the same."
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? "I don't know, you know? Everybody is about the same. We're real free but hopefully that will pay off for us. I haven't been good here the last several times so, we are going to try and start a little looser and see if that gives us a better race car tomorrow night. I feel pretty good about it. It doesn't have a lot of grip here especially during this time of day. Hopefully it will get better."
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE INCIDENT YOU HAD WITH KYLE BUSCH HERE? "No, not really. I think about running like crap the last couple of times we have run here and what we need to do to get to running back like that. I think about that about that time was the last time we were really running good here and I just want to get back to that."
HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE TO WINNING RIGHT NOW? "I'm just inside the top-10 points wise and I feel like that a decent assessment."
HAS THERE BEEN ANY TALK ABOUT JR MOTORSPORTS GOING CUP RACING? "No, not at all. That is probably not even worth talking about. It's not going to happen. It might be a good story or a good rumor, whatever, it ain't reality, man, we can't. I don't think we would do that."
THE OTHER RUMOR IS THAT YOU WOULD GO THERE AND RUN AND GIVE UP YOUR LAST TWO YEARS AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: "I like working with Rick. I am going to stick there, stick around as long as I can. I want to stay with Rick as long as he will keep me."
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT RICK HENDRICK THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW BEFORE? "I felt like that at the beginning. He is a good guy and takes care of his employees, takes care of his people. He is a good friend and just the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with. He sets a lot of great examples and you learn from them and try to make yourself a better person."
HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THE REACTION TO YOUR DRIVING THE NO. 3? "Not really. Some will like it, some won't like it. I feel like it is appropriate and I think everybody knows that I am pretty careful about all that kind of stuff. Shoot, man, if we really had wanted to wear it out, we could have run the No. 3 all over the place. It just seems like a reasonable opportunity and it seemed like that if there is a time to ever do it, this is one of the times. So I am kind of glad we are. At first, I was uncomfortable about it initially but the more I kind of see everybody together and the car itself and stuff like that, the more I get excited about it and the more I am happy about doing it. I wouldn't want to do anything to upset anybody, the fans or anything like that. I feel like I do a good job of staying within the guidelines of respect and taste regarding my Father and what he accomplished and his fans and all that stuff. I feel like it will be ok. It is probably uncomfortable for some people that have kind of a connection with him. Being his son, I feel like this makes me feel good to do it. It makes me feel good to go out there and honor him. I really try to be quiet about that kind of stuff. Going in the Hall of Fame, I am pretty proud of that for him. So, you just want to bring a lot of awareness of that."
DO YOU THINK HE WOULD HAVE BEEN REALLY PROUD OF ALL OF YOU TOGETHER? "Oh yea yea. You just never know what he would have said. He just liked being in charged and he said whatever he needed to say to let everybody know who was in charge."
IS TONY, JR. GOING TO BE THE CREW CHIEF? "Yes. He will be crew chiefing it just like he was last year in Atlanta when we ran together. Maybe, I don't know, maybe Tony, Sr. is the crew chief. Tony, Jr.? All Right! Solid."
ARE YOU HAPPY THAT NO ONE RUNS THE NO. 3 IN NASCAR? "I really don't have an opinion. I bet you all probably think I do, but I don't. If someone wants to run the No. 3, let them run the No. 3. Numbers are numbers. I don't think that even if somebody does run the No. 3, I don't think anyone is going to forget what Daddy did with it. It is ridiculous to try to retire numbers or favor numbers for certain drivers. The No. 3 meant a lot to Daddy and meant a lot to a lot of race fans but there is some kid that is growing up that really was never a Dale Earnhardt fan but he drives the No. 3 and he might want to be the No. 3 all his life and to not give that guy that opportunity just isn't fair."
NASCAR PENALIZES OBVIOUSLY FOR CARS WHO FAIL POST RACE INSPECTION, BUT DOES IT COME TO A POINT THEY NEED TO LOOK IT BECAUSE THE PERCEPTION THAT THIS SPORT REWARDS CHEATING SO TAKE AWAY THE WINS IN THESE CASES? "Man, taking away a win is such a strong strong move. I don't know whether that is right or what but you have to look at the ripple effect that would cause down through the garage, if any. I don't even know if it would have any repercussions throughout the garage, but it may cause a little bit of a domino effect. Money is what everybody in here is after. All these team owners. You start taking that away from them that will get their attention. Not many of them get to win races, so, if you want to get their attention, you get in their pocket. That will do it plenty."
YOUR NAME WAS MENTIONED IN THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER, ANY COMMENT ON THAT STORY? "We've been in there a lot. I don't know why we keep popping up in there. I guess we are relevant in some realm. You learn a lot of new stuff about yourself that you never knew before."
DO YOU WANT TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT ABOUT IT, IS THERE ANY TRUTH TO IT? "There is no truth to that particular story or any of the other ones for that matter if we want to set the record straight."
NO ONE EVER SEES YOU OUT AND ABOUT, YOU ARE VERY GUARDED ABOUT YOUR LIFE AND LOW KEY: "The Enquirer is pretty creative. I have to hand it to them."
HERE AT RICHMOND YOU PRACTICE AND QUALIFY DURING THE DAY AND RACE AT NIGHT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO APPROACH THAT? "We set our car up just a little bit free for this practice hoping that is going to be the direction that the track will tighten up a little bit. We just haven't run good here the last couple of times and we are definitely a lot freer in our setup than we have been the last two times we have been here. I haven't been able to turn in the middle and get through the center real good, we have been fighting that all night long in the race the last couple of times so we are just going to go for it and see what happens. Can't do any worse than we have been doing here."
WHY IS BUMPING SOMEONE OUT OF THE WAY IN LOCAL SHORT TRACK RACING ACCEPTED BUT NOT HERE? "Because of the implications and the magnitude, the attention, all the drivers, their pride is hurt. They have to lash out, they have to stand up for themselves because they just got wrecked in front of millions of people watching on TV, whatever. A lot of points get lost, points championship. Everything is so much bigger and seemingly more important I am sure. I remember when I raced at the short track level, it was just as important. I thought it was the most important thing I had going on in my life when I was racing at the short track level. But when you got wrecked, it was a lot easier to look forward to the next weekend, you didn't really dwell on the particular driver or the incident itself and there was only a couple hundred dollars lost over the whole deal. Where in these deals, as an owner in the Nationwide series and a driver in the Cup series, you get bent out of shape because of the money, the work that went in to the whole weekend to get there. You bond with your team and you hate to see them have to rebuild race cars. Your pride is hurt, everything is so much bigger. It is a grander scale here, just a little more upsetting."
WHAT MAKES DARLINGTON SUCH A TOUGH RACE TRACK? "The built it a long, long time ago. Racing has changed a lot since then. The line you have to run around that track is really unorthodox. Real narrow race track. You get in the fence a lot during the race and it is real slick. It is a real big ole race track but it is real slick and narrow and tough to drive."
-source: gm racing