DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Texas, moving the Sprint Cup banquet to Las Vegas, the current state of General Motors and other ...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Texas, moving the Sprint Cup banquet to Las Vegas, the current state of General Motors and other topics.
ON THE PRACTICE SESSION AT TEXAS: "It was pretty good -- we were trying to get a little bit better and we couldn't really find anything, but the car's good. We got a really good draw so that's going to help us a lot if the driver doesn't make any mistakes we should qualify in the top-five."
ON MOVING THE SPRINT CUP BANQUET TO LAS VEGAS: "I would be really excited about that. I think everybody would be happy to make that trip and enjoy Vegas. New York and Vegas both provide different things and both are exciting and good and prominent. They need to change it up a little bit and do it up a little so I am pretty excited to hear that."
WOULD YOU RATHER GO TO NEW YORK OR LAS VEGAS?: "Wherever I can be the champ. It don't matter to me if it was in Nantucket -- I don't care."
ON RACING IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES: "It's a little bit more work and the cars drive so differently. Tomorrow it will be kind of tough going back and forth trying to adjust how you drive each car is quite different so it's a little more of a challenge."
ON THE CURRENT NEWS ABOUT CHEVROLET: "I really find it fascinating with what's going on and what the country is going through, the decisions by Washington and I do really enjoy trying to understand and stay on top of what's happening. I try to stay educated about it and try to understand the little things that are going on that create the big picture. It's pretty interesting times right now and I hope the people that are making all the decisions are making the best ones for our future and for the long road. You can't please everybody and it's hard to really understand what the right decision is when you have so many people that are either for it or against it. Everything that goes on it seems that it is split down the middle of who likes it and who don't like it so its really challenging for a person like me to see and understand what was the best decision and what's a good decision and which end to support. Hopefully we're making the decisions that will be right for us a long time down the road."
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT CHEVROLET'S INVOLVEMENT IN THE SPORT?: "No. Their situation to me is no more severe or serious than it was a year ago. People have such short term memories on every thing and it's frustrating. They were in a tough position last year and they're working really hard to try to monitor and remedy the situation. I'm just as concerned today as I was last year. I feel like there's been a lot of positives in the last six months as well that are giving me a lot of inspiration and hope that the situation is going to get better, especially for Chevrolet."
ON WEARING A HEAD DRESS AT THE EVENT AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "I like Wahoo (McDaniel) a lot and when I was a little kid and we all kind of look like the same guy if they just put a face on a big muscular body. I figured I would get the Indian head dress on so I could be distinguished apart from the others. Wahoo was pretty cool and he was great in the cage matches and he kind of came up around Ric Flair's time and they've got Ric Flair promoting it and he's doing a great job. I felt like it was dishonorable to them to take the Nature Boy or the American Dream from Dusty Rose so I took Wahoo because I was a big fan of his anyways. I just want to say that was one of the first times where a race track came to us with their ideas and we worked together and a lot of people might think its ridiculous, but we had fun with it. That was a happy ending to that kind of deal and hopefully we can do it that way with that kind of approach in the future when the race tracks want to do promotions we can work together because I think it's a lot of fun.""
WHAT MAKES TEXAS A SPECIAL TRACK FOR YOU?: "I like this race track a lot. They've done an amazing job coming from the ground up. I don't think they get enough credit for what they developed here and what they have been able to bring to this area. The facilities are really nice, the fans really enjoy it and have latched onto it. They stand by their race track and that's great to see. The community seems to really appreciate the track and they feel as if it's their own. I really enjoy coming here and hope we are able to come here for a very long time because this is a great race track and it could have an amazing history."
DO YOU EVER REGRET WHAT YOU SAY TO YOUR CREW OVER THE RADIO?: "Absolutely, especially if you go back to being younger there was a lot of things that you said and your entire attitude toward either Tony (Eury) Sr. or Tony (Eury) Jr. or individuals on your crew there's tons of regrets. I don't think there's a driver in the garage that doesn't have something that they regret saying over the radio. You're only human and you're in the heat of the battle and there's nothing that matters at all but winning and getting the car running good and getting it right and getting it the way you want it. That's all that matters at that time. When you're in that race car nothing matters -- nothing else, not family, not nothing. When you get out of the car you go, 'Wow that either brought the best out of me or the worst out of me.' You say a lot of things and I think as you get older, not because you mature, but because you make mistakes you do that less and you make a concerted effort to do that less because it's not good for either side. You don't feel good about it and the team can't appreciate it."
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE COMPETITION TO THIS POINT IN THE SEASON?: "It's hard to pass, but it's been hard to pass. The old car was kind of hard to pass, but to me the COT has a lot of pluses and it can put on a great race. I think it's a great race car for short tracks. We put on some really good races at those tracks, but we keep cutting them from the schedule. We keep racing at every mile-and-a-half that we can produce in a big market and we keep getting the same kind of racing. This car has a lot of limitations on its ability to create down force and for anyone to engineer any type of down force into it. We haven't made what I feel is an assertive effort to make the car a better race car and make it race better. I feel like it's the same car we started with from the very beginning and it is a brand new car and it was a brand new car when we ran 10 races with it in 2007. That's the same car that we're running today and so I feel like we could do a better job of being more creative and more open-minded toward producing a car that was going to race better, but everybody has a different opinion on what creates that. Whether its front down force, whether its more motor or different tires or bigger tires -- everybody has such a different opinion about it that you can't get everybody in the same agreement to be able to start being more productive rather than counter productive toward having the most competitive and exciting racing we can have. I would guarantee you that there's not a driver or a guy that works with NASCAR that wouldn't like the racing to be better -- we all would. Is it even possible to create that? As long as we're all racing with the knowledge and the experience and the technology we have -- we're all going to be pretty close. If we're all pretty close and you can't really do anything to affect how the wind changes these cars and how people get aero-tight because that's always going to be there -- its going to be hard to pass a guy if you're really close. I think you're going to have that argument till the end of time. We need more short tracks -- it would be fun to race on more short tracks. I think they put on good races and we can put good crowds in those seats. They're cheaper to build -- it's easier to build a half-mile track than a mile-and-a-half for sure. It's exciting, maybe we're going to swing that direction."
ARE YOU SURPRISED AT THE SUCCESS TONY STEWART HAS HAD THIS YEAR?: "You shouldn't be really because he's an amazing race car driver and he's got a lot of talent around him. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) is a sharp individual. My reaction is that I get really pleased when you see him have success or run fast because me and Tony (Stewart) are good friends and I worked with Darian (Grubb) last year so we had a pretty good relationship and I appreciate Darian (Grubb) so I don't think I'm surprised because that's what they're supposed to do and that's probably what they wanted to do."
ON JEFF GORDON NOT HAVING A WIN YET THIS SEASON: "He could get a win any week. Jeff's (Gordon) been in this sport a really long time and he's been successful and you can never count him out."
ON THE MEETING WITH TONY EURY JR.: "The meeting he's talking about is probably the one we had before Martinsville and Ken Howes (vice president of competition) and Brian Whitsell (team manager) and Doug Duchardt (vice president of development) and all those guys, I wanted to get them all in a room where it was quiet away from the pressures of the race track. I just wanted them to tell me their real thoughts and give it to me. If it was a punch in the face then that's what it was. I just wanted to hear it from them as to what they wanted me to do and what I could do better. I wanted to get away from the track to where we could speak privately about it and I ain't going to take any credit for calling it. All that was facilitated by Rick (Hendrick) anyways to get better. Everything we do he gets credit for."
DID THE MEETING MAKE A DIFFERENCE?: "It's great to hear from those guys. They have so much experience and they do such a great job. They just know that company so well, they know what race car drivers need to do and need to be and how they need to act. They know how good crews are supposed to be. I just want them to lead me, man. I want them to guide me and tell me when they think I'm doing the wrong thing."
ON TOO MUCH INFORMATION AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WHEN CHASING SET-UPS ON THE CARS: "I think we have to be wise and open-minded to what our teammates are learning and what they're doing to go fast. You have to all the time especially when they're fast. Tony (Eury) Jr -- it's his job to be smart enough to know what to do. He's the crew chief and he's the leader of the team in that essence. The one thing you must not do when you have teammates is let your ego stand in the way of understanding what they're doing and how they're making something work. I don't think Tony (Eury) Jr. does that. Anytime you get so competitive that your ego gets in the way of trying to learn from somebody like Chad (Knaus, No. 48 crew chief) or whatever."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BANQUET MOVING TO LAS VEGAS?: "I'm real excited about that and I think it would be good for us -- let's go do it. I think we'll all enjoy ourselves. Vegas is a fun town and it's hard not to have a good time there. Hopefully nothing starts before lunch."
ON RACING AT DOVER: "I really like running there -- it's a pretty good track. We've got a win there and won some Busch races there. It's unique. It's something you can get a hold of and it's tough to be fast there. It's really fun to race on."
-credit: gm racing