Richmond II: Earnhardt Jr - GM Top-10 interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS: ON HOW CAR IS PERFORMED IN PRACTICE: "We aren't running too bad. We don't normally run too good in practice, so we will be fine. We have my setups really, really ...


ON HOW CAR IS PERFORMED IN PRACTICE: "We aren't running too bad. We don't normally run too good in practice, so we will be fine. We have my setups really, really loose right now so it is hard for me to go fast. The track is going to tighten up quite a bit."

ON MOMENTUM OF TEAM AT THIS POINT IN SEASON: "We have peaked pretty good right now. Running second, third and sixth the last several weeks has been good for us. That is as good as our performance has been ever before. Hopefully we can maintain through the Chase. We just want to get through this weekend without any misfortune and be in the Chase and then keep it up because it is really a good thing and a lot of fun."

THOUGHS ON POSSIBILITIES OF STANDINGS SCRAMBLE AFTER THIS RACE: "I thought about it for about five minutes after the California race and that is the last time I thought about it. It is what it is; you go out there and do what you have got to do. You only control certain parts of what is going on out there and the rest is up to fate. Hopefully, you have a little bit of luck and everybody does a good job, everyone on the team puts in a good effort and things work out for you."

ON WHAT HIS FANS MIGHT THINK OF CHASE: "That is what it is for, right. To keep the fans interested, it is pretty exciting. It is exciting as a driver to be a part of it. I know that sounds sort of cliche`, but for me I think it is really exciting to be a part of it and I am glad Chase is what it is. I don't want to be on the outside looking in too often. But be in the battle for the 10th spot here at the end has been really, really exciting, a lot of fun for me. I really enjoy that of challenge in my life. Instead of pressure, it is fun. It is fun to be in the mix and being a part of the headline, you know what I mean."

ON SMARTEST WAY TO APPROACH RACE (RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY): "It is a fun race track. The only bad part about it is the impound deal. We are going to practice today and that is it. Then we have the Busch race, which a lot of rubber will go down and that will tighten the car up. Since they sold the track a couple of years ago, they quit sealing it so the track goes through a tremendous amount of changes from the time we show up until the time the race starts.

With the sealer, it typically stayed the same until about 100 laps in to the Cup race, the it would start to wear the bottom off then we would move up the race track. This thing is really slick when you first get out there as you saw Tony (Stewart) spinning out there. I was really loose on that same run. We didn't get a good fast lap in to put on the board. I under drove the car quite a bit in qualifying trim. When the race comes around, we will start where we start, run some laps and find the line where the car goes the fastest like we have been the past several weeks."

ON BEING AGGRESSIVE DURING THIS RACE DESPITE CONSEQUENCES: "I think the drivers are as aggressive as they have always been. I have heard a lot of the guys complaining that Bristol race wasn't that exciting. Matt had that good of a race car and not a lot of opportunity for things to happen in that race. Over the last four or five years, the temperament on the race track has changed quite a bit. I don't think, due to that, we will dial it back at all, our aggressiveness, how hard we drive or anything compared to how we ran the first 10 races of the season."

ON UTILIZING NOTES AND SETUPS FROM SPRING RACE THIS TIME: "We rely on that stuff quite a bit. You can almost guarantee that they don't at places like Pocono in the middle of the summer, but since we are going to run at night and the temperatures are about the same, it will be kind of cool, so it is really similar. The only thing I wish they did was seal the race track a little bit because it gives the race track a little bit of grip and it made the track better for two and three wide racing. Now we still run different grooves, but it is more difficult to pass due to the lack of sealer on the track to get that grip, it is fun, but it is difficult to pass."

ON TYPE OF RACE KASEY KAHNE MIGHT HAVE SATURDAY NIGHT: "I really think, I might be wrong, I expect everybody to be pretty courteous to Kasey, pretty much anybody who is in the Chase and their teammates. I would be really surprised to know that one teammate would say to another to race him hard whenever they got the opportunity. I think that would be pretty crappy in the first place to be that way. It could be going on, but I would be surprised though. "

ON THE AMOUNT OF WINS OR NO WINS PEOPLE IN THE CHASE MIGHT HAVE: "We have always rewarded consistency and I believe we have to continue to do that. I think the system awards consistency and it always should, but at the same time, as people talk more about the significance of a win and should there more points awarded, I believe that argument is starting to gain some ground and have some substance to it. I think we should get more points for winning races before the Chase starts. Maybe not so much in the Chase, but if you aren't going to do it in the first 26, then do it in the last 10 races. I think the winner should be given more points.

And another thing, I feel like I am the only one that feels this strongly about it, I should think qualifying should play a little more of a factor in the points system, even it is only one to five points spread out in the top-10. If you qualifying in the top-10 give those guys one point apiece. Nothing major but something, because it is a lot of effort. A lot of work goes in to qualifying for really nothing more than picking a pit box. I think the winning be should be given five or ten more points but no more than that."

ON WHICH IS MORE STRESSFUL, GETTING IN THE CHASE OR COMPETING IN THE CHASE: "Once you are in the Chase, there are a lot of expectations. When those things aren't materializing for you over the span of 10-races, that can get pretty stressful. That probably is tougher. You put so much effort in to getting in to the Chase and then if you get there and falter and be uncharacteristic of what you really feel like your potential should be, that is when it is heard."

ON MATURITY OF TEAM TO REBOUND FROM STRING OF POOR RUNS: "I am really happy to see that we did. We rebounded better than I anticipated, especially over the last three races. This has really been a stretch, even though it is only three races, it has been at two race tracks where we hadn't typically done well. I am really proud of my team and their resilience. I was really mad about the misfortunes in with the motors and I felt that we are a better company than that. We are a better program than that. I was glad that we were glad we were able to turn it around, or not so much turn it around, but move past it. If we hadn't of had that misfortune, we would be sitting third in the points.

"I don't think we will have any more motor issues but like this weekend, I worry. I don't talk to Richie (Gilmore, DEI) that much about the motors and I don't get in their busi8ness that much. I just ask them to do the best job they can. I don't get into what kind of motor they put together. I just don't want to be conservative. You can't rest on conservative and hope it works out for you. We have to throw it out there and go for. If you have failures, you have failures. They are frustrating. One week was understandable, but two weeks was a little hard to deal with. The one at Talladega, you don't know if when you spun out f you spun it backwards or what. You just get frustrated when you blow motors because you know how good our motors are and how tough they are, we don't have failures. For us to have three failures this year was really strange to me. I don't want to be conservative in our motor program, I want to go for the power and go for the win and the championship. If I am getting beat off the corner and having to drive my butt off to run 15th, we can't win a championship like that, so we have to really go for it."

ON LESSONS LEARNED NOT BEING IN THE CHASE LAST YEAR "I didn't learn anything from not being in the Chase last year. If you keep your head on straight and you are with a good team, you will make the Chase. If you have engine failures and stuff like we had, you might not make the Chase. A good team with a talented driver and a good level head over the whole team can make the Chase relatively comfortably. If you look at everyone who is struggling to make the Chase right now, myself included, they have all had falters and mistakes they have made. The only thing I have learned and seen is the Chase isn't that difficult as it is made out to be. But having your mind on that factor the entire season-every single pass, every single lap, every single risk you take is very difficult."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup