Dale Earnhardt, Jr. set a new record today in Winston Cup Racing by winning Talladega four consecutive times. The new record broke the tie Earnhardt, Jr. had with Buddy Baker. Earnhardt, Jr. also tied his dad, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in the record...
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. set a new record today in Winston Cup Racing by winning Talladega four consecutive times. The new record broke the tie Earnhardt, Jr. had with Buddy Baker. Earnhardt, Jr. also tied his dad, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in the record book of sweeping both the Busch Series and the Winston Cup races at the Talladega Superspeedway. Following his the GM Racing's press conference transcript.
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DALE EARNHARDT, JR. , NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON BECOMING THE FIRST DRIVER TO WIN FOUR IN A ROW HERE
"I just never thought I'd do it. Coming in this weekend, I was kind of preparing for worst and hoping for the best, basically - like when we were down in Daytona when we were winning all them races. The odds were against us to come in here and do it four times in a row. It still didn't look good up 'til there at the end of the race. We had led a little bit, but didn't really have a real strong car. I got to figuring how who could help me the most and got trying to run with those people. We got to staying up toward the front there at the end and I got to leading a little bit. I showed them boys - I showed the '24' and the '48' there a line around the middle of the track that was good, as far as blocking the bottom and it was a lot of fun. We were just passing and racing. That was a lot of passing, I felt like, for no more cars than we had on the racetrack. That was a good bit of passing we had going on in there for the lead. It was just real exciting. I don't think I've ever torn up a car like we did today here at a plate track. There was just some gouging going on. You had to really be tough or get knocked the hell out of the way."
TONY EURY, SR. , CREW CHIEF, NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON WINNING FOUR IN A ROW
"We work hard to run good every week. But, our speedway program - Dale, Jr., loves to draft - and I think we put an extra effort into that just to come down here and run good and draft good. We did have a body change this year. The car we've been winning here with, it's sitting in the museum so all the race fans to come by DEI can see it. It's sitting right in front of the window. This car that we have here, it's still an old car, but it's a car that we kept. It's the car we ran the Bud Shootout with every year. It's kind of a backup car. We cut the body off of it and rebuilt it. It was still planning on being a backup car. We bought a new chassis and built a new car that we were planning on being a primary car and it never really turned out that good. We went and tested and didn't run good. This car here ran the best so we just went home and massaged on it a little bit and made it the best we could.
"The fuel mileage that Richie Gilmore and them guys in the engine shop get is just great. I think it helped us on the little fuel cell because the fuel mileage is so good we can actually - if the race went green all day long, I think we can run one less stop than the rest of the guys. It seems like us and the Hendrick cars are getting real good gas mileage. The rest of the guys aren't really that good, so the small fuel cell, I think, has helped us out a little bit, anyway."
ON THE PASS AT THE END
"We were going down the back straightaway and Matt and the '48' were real close together up against the wall. There was about two and a half lanes or racetrack underneath me on the outside of the yellow line. I got a push - might have been from Harvick - going down the back straightaway and was running up on them boys. They were up there racing against the wall. I was watching Matt to see if he had noticed me and was coming down to block me. When we went into turn three, I had the left sides down there on the apron and drove into the corner on the apron. I didn't really pull out down under the line on intention, nor did it have any affect one way or the other on getting by Matt. I was going by Matt whether I had the left sides underneath the line or not. I did it basically because; one, I wasn't really watching. I was watching him and trying not to run into him if he came down and crossed the nose of my car, so it more not to cause a wreck than anything. But, I didn't necessarily, intentionally end up there. Again, I don't think it was an advantage on getting by Matt. There was still two and a half or three lanes of racetrack up there left when we went down into the corner. Plus, it was real late down at the end of the straightaway. It was almost down into the corner...so I think it was just one hell of a move more than anything."
WHAT IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RULE?
"NASCAR tells you that you don't advance your position by going below it. That would mean to me that I would be behind somebody, pull out to go under him and be underneath the line the entire time. I do believe that there is a judgment call as far as trying to avoid a wreck.
"Or, we've seen guys be shoved down below the line. I haven't always agreed with NASCAR's judgment on every one of those calls. But, it's tough. There are a lot of situations and we're seeing it more often every day that NASCAR has to make the decision. There is no way, I don't think, to go for a clear-cut rule and NASCAR has to make the call. They're pretty much the final say on everything.
"I feel like that today, Matt wasn't down there against the line. There was a lot of racetrack left underneath him. I didn't pull out to go around him under the line. I can't sit there and watch him and make sure he's not going to come across the nose of my car and wreck me, and be watching this line at the same time. I just ended up below it late into the corner.
"I really wasn't paying attention to the line, period, and it wasn't necessary for me to watch the line because he wasn't in front of me. He was up against the wall. Not pointing a finger at Jimmie [Johnson], but you saw a lot of evasive moves to block a run all day long - a lot of moves - and Matt could have done that. I done knocked the bumper bar after that when I was trying to push him. It would just pick his rear tires off the ground and about spin him out. I didn't want to end up running into the back of him or into the quarter panel of him. Just when I got down into the corner I had the left sides on the apron. I was trying to pay attention, so we didn't run into each other."
DO YOU FEEL YOU HAD MADE THE PASS?
"Yeah, I do. I was up above the line going down the straightaway all the way to the corner. Him and '48' were coming down into turn three and I ran onto the apron in the corner to keep from running into the side of them. By that time, Matt was already on the quarter panel and I was already past him. It wouldn't be no different than me coming down through [the tri-oval] with the lead and dip the left front below the line. It would be no different than that, in my opinion. But, I'm sure it's going to get a lot of publicity. It's unfortunate that that's going to get the publicity and not the four in a row."
WERE YOU CONCERNED THAT NASCAR MIGHT BLACK FLAG YOU?
"I didn't even think about it. I hadn't even realized at all until we had gotten in the car and we were listening to the press conferences on the way over here - listening to Jim Hunter - and I hadn't even realized that I had done it. That tells me that I wasn't completely below the line. I haven't seen a tape of it, but I know in my heart that I didn't go below the line to go around him. I was clearly up on the racetrack, in my opinion, when I was going past him. I went down on the apron in the corner to keep from running into him. I was past him. If I would have went into the corner without going down, we would have hit and gone up into the wall. I had already made the pass and was clearly making the pass and had the pass on Matt, and we just avoided a crash, more than anything."
WAS THIS A TOUGHER WIN THAN ALL THREE OF YOUR PREVIOUS WINS HERE COMBINED?
"I think so. I think today was real tough. When the crash was happening down in the middle of one and two, we were just getting into turn one.
"I didn't have any confidence I could get the car slowed down. I couldn't see what was happening. I could just see a glimpse of a fender or a quarter panel of somebody's slamming around and I just tried to guess which way they were going or which way they were sliding or why they were where they were and where they were headed. I just made some lucky guesses. I did go below the line there to get below some people. But, it was a bad wreck. Once we cleared through it, I knew that the potential, as far as maybe tearing up the brakes on the car, we tore the nose up a little bit - I didn't guess that we were going to be competitive the rest of the day. If anything, we could just hang on to the draft. But, it don't take much to take a very, very good race car -- it don't take much to upset that car to where it won't run right or where there is a little bit of drag on it. Even midway through the race I didn't feel like I had a competitive car. We got to the lead one time and got passed and I just felt like we needed a stronger car or the rest of the field that was pushing me or the guys I was working with needed to have more confidence in my car because I hadn't been there all day and they hadn't raced with me and hadn't seen what my car was capable of. But, at the end of the day there we were able to make the moves we needed to make and get the help we needed to get."
WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO TO THE CAR AFTER THE LAP 5 WRECK?
"When we got in the wreck down there it knocked the nose apart. The nose is made in two pieces and it split the nose apart, so there was nothing to put the nose back together with. So, we ended up putting a piece of aluminum on the nose and pop-riveting it and trying to tape it. I think we ended up stopping 17 times or something to get it fixed, but we just stayed at it. We knew the car wasn't hurt that bad. We knew it was going to hurt it a little bit, but we ran here one time at Daytona with a fender gone and ran real good, so we knew we could get the car back to where it was capable of running up front and get the best finish we could get out of it. We didn't think we could get it good enough to win, but we thought we could run in the lead pack all day."
WAS THERE A REASON THIS RACE WAS MORE INTENSE AND EXCITING THAN USUAL?) "I think we were all just running each other really close. There are just guys out there that run real close to you. When they do it and everybody else sees it, then they do it, too. Before the end of the race we were all running into each other and crashing and just doing what everybody else was doing. There are just some guys out there than make certain moves that we normally don't see or normally don't make and drive with a certain style that isn't necessarily recommended for the races that we're normally running here. Everybody had to get physical just to race with those guys.
"It was pretty interesting. I had a lot of fun out there. I'm glad it turned out like it did because there were a lot of people out there that were working against us and it's good that we ended up in victory lane."