Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS spoke to the media at Infineon Raceway about his racing at Infineon, his move to Hendrick Motorsports and other subjects: ON PRACTICE: "I am real loose turning to the right; we have got to...
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS spoke to the media at Infineon Raceway about his racing at Infineon, his move to Hendrick Motorsports and other subjects:
ON PRACTICE: "I am real loose turning to the right; we have got to figure out what is going on there. We think we might have some ideas. we still have got a little bit of practice tomorrow to figure it out. We had a really good test, at VIR I was real happy with the car but we were running the Hoosier tires there and they have got a lot more grip and they feel a whole lot better. So we got out here on our Goodyears and they are a harder tire and they are going to last longer for you. You have kind of got to give up some of that early comfort for the first part of the run. The car will relax; a lot of forward bite."
DOES THE CAR KIND OF LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD WITH SOME OF THESE ROAD-COURSE SPECIALISTS? "Absolutely not."
THEY STILL HAVE THE ADVANTAGE? "Sure, because they have done it all of their lives (laughs)."
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO JEFF (GORDON'S) AND JIMMIE (JOHNSON'S) CARS FAILING THE INSPECTION THIS MORNING? "NASCAR is really, it seems to me that, last probably four or so months, NASCAR has decided that their policies on infractions has not been stern enough to get the results that they have been looking for so they are starting to put some heavy duty fines and suspensions and penalties on these guys. We have been through it here with our team. I don't really know what they did over there, something about the fenders being too wide or something. Obviously, NASCAR wasn't happy with it."
IS IT THE SAME PENALTY THAT YOU GUYS GOT? "They didn't do the same thing. I don't know, who is to say? I don't know, it don't really matter to me who gets penalized and who don't."
I KNOW IT HAS ONLY BEEN ABOUT A WEEK SINCE YOU MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT. WHAT HAS THE FAN REACTION BEEN TO YOU PERSONALLY ABOUT MAKING THE JUMP TO HENDRICK? "It has been good. I have been pretty surprised. My fans are real supportive, they always have been. They have been really supportive and making us feel good about our decision. Trying to lay the results down and make them happy so they can enjoy it."
YOU SEEMED PRETTY HAPPY ABOUT SONY ELECTRONICS WHEN YOU MADE THAT ANNOUNCEMENT YESTERDAY. "Yeah, I really like pairing with a company like Sony because I enjoy that kind of stuff and I get into those kind of things. You know, being able to check out some of the things that they have got. It will be a lot of fun for me. It is a company that, the more I work with, the more I will know about, the more I will be able to speak intelligently about and maybe I will be able to make some sense when it comes to trying to sell product, but it makes it easy when you get with somebody that you have an interest in. Makes it real easy."
DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE COMMENT ABOUT BUDWEISER TODAY? "Oh no, I have been working today. Been out here at the race track, so you know, what would I know about that right now? "
DO YOU THINK WITH THE COT CARS IT WILL BE HARDER TO PASS ON ROAD COURSES? "It is pretty hard. just wait for people to mess up and try not to do the same, you know. I haven't really had a whole lot of success trying to anticipate a pass. I normally end up making a mistake then. My daddy always told me, 'you just stay on the asphalt -try not to make a mistake and just stay on the asphalt. Everybody else is going to make mistakes and you will get into the top ten'."
YOU HAVE HAD SOME SUCCESS LIKE (MARK) MARTIN IS GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW WITH A HOT STREAK. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN IT AFTER THREE OR FOUR WEEKS AND NOT LOOSE IT? WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO DO TO KIND OF MAINTAIN THAT STRENGTH INSTEAD OF FALLING BACK DOWN? "He might have, when you come to Sonoma or somewhere where you struggle, he might just have to write one off. I don't think that they are going to have to worry about loosing their momentum. Once you hit that corner or turn that corner, you normally stay there because you expect that much more out of yourself and you are able, for the most part, to deliver on that. I think that the team that you see them as today, is what you will see more often out of them."
WHAT DO YOU SEE DIFFERENT OUT OF THEM? "Hard to believe, but confidence probably."
CAN YOU TELL US HOW IT IS GOING TO FEEL LIKE TO TURN RIGHT? "It is fun if you try to enjoy it."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BIG DAY? HOW YOU PREPARE MENTALLY, WHAT FANS DON'T SEE IN YOUR PREPARATION FOR THE BIG RACE? "There ain't much that they don't see. Here, I don't have a bus so we all hang in the trailer here and just kind of shoot the crap. (Mark) Martin is just a couple trailers down, so I go down there and shoot the crap with him for a little bit. If I get bored, I will try and find something to eat, maybe. When it is time, you just put you suit on and go, there really isn't much to it."
WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THE CAR OF TOMORROW RACES THIS YEAR. I KNOW YOU HAVE SAID THAT IT HAS BEEN REALLY FRUSTRATING FOR YOU. WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS, THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT IT, THINGS YOU DON'T LIKE ABOUT IT, AND THINGS THAT NEED TO BE WORKED ON FOR NEXT YEAR? "Well, I don't really know what NASCAR might change to help the car. We struggle getting the car to turn in the middle at the ovals. That is just a matter of time before we figure out what we need to do there. But otherwise, it is not too bad. Some places, it has been even easier to drive. Here, it is a little more difficult to drive, but you have got to anticipate that it is a road course and when it comes to road courses, we only run two a year and we don't have that much data and knowledge, so you are going to struggle a little bit. It just depends, if you show up, sometimes you are good and sometimes you are not. The COT is becoming less of a factor. It is more just about what k ind of luck you have got."
YOUR PLANNED MOVE TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, IS THAT AND ALL THE MEDIA ATTENTION THAT YOU ARE GETTING WITH IT, IS THAT MORE OF A DISTRACTION TO YOU NOW? "Well, the plan to go is not really a distraction. The media attention is not really a distraction, not too bad. You just try to, you know, sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days, just because and when you're at the race track and you have to talk to media and you are having a bad day, you just kind of gotta suck it up and try to act right and act like you have got some sense. This is hard and hot and frustrating today in trying to get what I want out of that car over there. I could just go over and beat it up with a sledge hammer. I get so frustrated with it. You kind of got to wipe that off and try to remember who you are and how you are supposed to conduct yourself. When I talk to you guys, I don't carry that frustration over here. That is the biggest mistake that I have made in the past and you will see guys make today. When we are having a good day, heck, I could talk to guys all day (laughs). You know what I mean?"
YOU TALKED EARLIER ABOUT THE WHOLE SITUATION YOU GUYS ARE IN WITH TONY (EURY, JR.) BEING GONE FOR TEN RACES AND WITH WHAT JEFF (GORDON) AND JIMMIE (JOHNSON) MIGHT BE FACING. IS NASCAR GETTING EVERYBODY'S ATTENTION NOW WITH THE PENALTIES? "Sure. They got mine. I will tell you that. No offense to Tony Gibson, he has done more than what was expected or asked of him, but I sure as hell miss Tony Jr. I was just used to working with him. I need him. They got my damn attention. When that happened in Darlington, I was like awe shucks, you know. Next time it happens, I might be a little harder on Tony Jr. (laughs)."
HAVE YOU MADE ANY PROGRESS ON GETTING IN OVER TO HENDRICK YET? "I think so, you know, that is between Kelley and DEI and Rick. To be honest with you guys, a lot of times, 99% of these questions that you ask me, I am not even in the discussions, with everything that I have got going on. I have got a lot of trust in my sister. I probably should be a little more involved, but I can't. I don't have the time. They tell me what the possibilities are and I get to pick between those. If there is one, there is one. As far as answering your question, I think that they are moving forward with that. I just, Rick has got a great group of guys over there. Whatever happens, happens. I will be happier and thrilled to death, no matter who I am working with. I enjoy working with my cousin. That is the way that I would love it to stay the rest of my life. If I could have it that way, it would be a perfect world."
HOW OFTEN DO YOUR FANS BRING UP YOUR DAD'S NAME? DO THEY BRING HIM UP A LOT? "Yeah, they do and it's fine. They are just dealing with maybe something that they have went through or that they have related to or they were just huge fans. It doesn't bother me the least bit. If anything it is a great feeling to hear his name out of somebody else's mouth. To hear people, after six and a half years, to still have that sort of feelings about him and have that sort of admiration for him, it is a good thing."
DO YOU STILL FEEL THAT HE IS HERE IN NASCAR? "Yeah, I feel it. I feel his presence every day. In this garage, you know, he is still around, or whatever, whatever he brought to the table, it is still around."
YOU MADE THE COMMENT YESTERDAY THAT HE WAS WRONG ABOUT THE INTERNET. HOW DID YOU END UP BEING MORE OF A COMPUTER GUY THAN HIM? WHAT DID HE NOT LIKE ABOUT COMPUTERS? "He didn't like anything about them. He thought it was evil. Hell, he's old, stuck in his ways. He just, you know, just like any other father, doesn't want his kids fooling around with the computer all night long. It has caused me to be late for work and he just looked at it as a toy. It was useless to him, it didn't accomplish anything. I knew that we needed to understand that because it is a huge part of what we are today. So, I am kind of glad, you know, because I am ahead of a lot of my friends. I am the guy that they come and ask for help. I have got guys that I know, that kick butt at doing computers and stuff, that I go to when I need help, but it is kind of cool when your friends call and ask you for help."
SINCE YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT WITH HENDRICK YOU HAVE LOOKED ESPECIALLY HAPPY. CAN YOU JUST DESCRIBE WHAT YOUR EMOTIONS HAVE BEEN? "Well, we have got a lot of year left. We have got a lot of season left this year. As excited, I am really excited and anticipating what is going to happen to me in the next five years. I have got to kind of contain that because I got to concentrate on my red car. I want to run good in it. It means something personally to me to continue to run good the rest of this year and being able to lay down some good finishes that I could brag about. Those are the emotions that I deal with at the race track. You look around and you see the Hendrick bunch and your mind wonders what it is going to be like working with those guys, knowing those guys, getting to know those guys. You sort of got a job to do and one that I want to do really good, so I can't really think about that as much as I would probably like to, as far as what the future holds and what the fut ure is going to be like. But I am looking forward to it. When I go home and I am not at the race track, I am really, really in a good mood. It is just a good feeling knowing that there is a lot of great things around the corner, not only for me, but for my company as well, my employees. I want to do things to get his guys excited and happy that I am a partner and asset to their company."
WHAT KIND OF CHANCE DO YOU GIVE JEFF (GORDON) NOW THAT HE IS STARTING IN THE BACK? "If anybody can accomplish that, he can. Hopefully, he won't have the win. Hopefully I will get the win. I want the win. But he can get it done. He is amazing when it comes to the road courses, his track record here. The thing about this is, the new fuel cell.everybody says that it takes away the strategy that the old fuel cells provided, but it brings in a new strategy. Guys will figure out something that this fuel cell allows them to do when it comes to pit strategy. And you could be in the lead through pit strategy or in the top five and give him that shot at getting the win through pit strategy. I don't think that you are going to have to watch him pass every car, one at a time. I think Steve (Letarte) will definitely come up with something. He always does. But, hopefully I am the smartest and my team and I get it done."
ON SEASON EIGHT IS WRAPPING UP FOR DMP RIGHT NOW, DERRICK WOOD IN THE LEAD. SRN TV IS GOING OFF THE AIR. YOUR THOUGHTS FOR ALL THAT? "Well, things change. Things come and go. We have got a lot of new and exciting things for next season, with ownership and such. I am looking forward to that and bringing in a new element. You know, it's not really a new element, you have seen guys do it before, but I am looking forward to that element being a part of our league. You have seen it have success before and we owe credit to all of the leagues that have done it in the past. The broadcasts have been a huge part of promoting our league. We want to thank SRN for everything that they have done over the years."
-credit: gm racing