DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Q: On the last lap. "Yeah, it was pretty exciting. My car was total (crap) there at the end. I couldn't run with a 12, couldn't even hold him off. He was -- you know, that was a...
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
Q: On the last lap.
"Yeah, it was pretty exciting. My car was total (crap) there at the end. I couldn't run with a 12, couldn't even hold him off. He was -- you know, that was a thing about this track or it was the thing about today's race is when if you was in front of somebody even if they was better than you, you could hold them back there because they would get aero tight. I was trying to drive in his tracks, actually watch in the mirror and trying to see the line he was running, trying to run where he ran and keep the air off his nose so he couldn't get the run on me, get by he. And I went down in the three and my right front just give up, and I couldn't hold him off. I mean, Jeff come on right up through there and we got to moving each other around, but it was clean racing. I mean, that's pretty clean compared to most people I hear. He kind of gave me a bump in the center of three and four, but I was ready for it. He kind of knew I was slowing up trying to keep it on the bottom and he eased it up out of the way and got on the inside, but I knew he would have a difficult time on the inside, rather than the outside. He probably would have had better luck pinching me down on the bottom like I did him, and I just pinched him down and give him no room to get on the gas, no room to really accelerate off the corner. It was either, you know, drive up in the side of me or back off, and he backed off, so we got his position."
Q: Did you consider taking two tires on the last pit stop?
"No, really not. I as sitting there thinking that the 12 had made a mistake, but he had a pretty good car regardless of what tires he had on there. We were in a good car all day long and we were fortunate to be up there. We were struggling back in about 10th place most of the day. The handling was going away on the car. Stop after stop we couldn't seem to make an adjustment that would help. We finally struck rubber in the right rear and that's where we also got the track position at that point. That was with about 90 laps to go. I told them we got a good track position. If I can get the nose in some clean air, we can probably stay up here in the top five and be fortunate to get that finish and we did, so I was really excited.
Q: Is there something that clicks when you come to Texas?
"I think we can write that off. After that first win we haven't gotten the success since. I know, we are just -- we are good at these type of race tracks, like Atlanta, Charlotte and here. We run good. We don't always win or get the great finishes, we always are a competitive car each time we go to them, and I like these tracks. It's a real easy track to drive. These tracks here are probably the most easy from the driver's standpoint to turn the car around in the corner an accelerate off the corner. It's the least amount challenging-wise compared to other tracks we go to, so it's an easy day's work for me."
Q: You sound tired.are you tired from racing or just tired?
"You know, it's not really that I'm tired. I was kind of ready to get it over with. It's a long day and we struggled with the car and I was really getting frustrated with the car not turning and I was tired of driving it, so I'm really glad to be out of it. I feel fortunate to get second, but I'm telling you, man, when you make six, seven stops in a day and you don't make an adjustment -- you make every adjustment available to you and it doesn't make a difference, you get frustrated and you feel like I'm probably stuck with this the rest of the day. We made a change there at the end that helped it. We stayed out clean air, too. We're so lucky to get a second place finish, because we had about probably a 13th place race car. But battles like that with Jeff in the 12, that's really mentally hard to do, because you're thinking so much about getting down in the corner, got to ease it up here so it doesn't push off, he don't get a run on me here, I've got to keep the car down here to keep the tight up off. I mean you're always thinking and having to do it as soon as you think about it. It's just split second decision every five feet and it's mentally tough. I mean, I raced 50 lap IROC race with my dad and we run second to him in Michigan and it was just 50 laps and I had never been so tired in my life. I had never felt like that and I haven't since. I mean, it's just when you get in those mental type of wars with another driver or a battle with yourself mentally on the race track, it can be worse, I think, than anything physical.
Q: Did you think that the end of the race with you and Jeff was the best part of that race, the whole thing, and also would you guys have done anything different if you had been racing for the lead?
"I think Jeff would have done something different. Jeff, he knows exactly, like a lot of drivers do and they're fortunate, he knows exactly enough -- how much bumper to give somebody to move them out of the way without spinning them out. I didn't even have to get off the gas. I felt him touch me and lift the tires off the ground enough to move the car. I didn't have to lift. He done it so perfectly like he had done it a million times and knew exactly how do to it. Some drivers can do that. Some drivers rare back and knock the hell out of you no matter where you land, you know. He wanted -- I mean, when you're racing somebody he knows good and well if he had wrecked me, he would have had to deal with the consequences and that's not a fun thing to have to go through a year watching your back all the time. We raced hard and, you know, he may have gotten -- we could do it 100 times and he might have gotten the spot. I might have gotten the spot. I made the right decision to get down in the three once he got under me to pinch him down and keep him down there. I stayed within an inch or two of his fender. I could watch my fender and keep him right there where he couldn't throttle up. He would have drove into the side of me and both of us would have been in the wall then. Didn't get much choice on the fourth corner on the flag.
Q: You look like the most frustrated second/third place finisher this year.
"Am I giving you the Mark Martin?"
Q: What's it going to take to get you to smile?
"The championship. I want to finish in the top five. I want to get something that we didn't get last year, and I'm just, you know, really -- we should have got a good run last week. We didn't have the car to do it. We got pulled when I ran out of gas. I might be the only car in the history of NASCAR to run out of gas in Bristol. I think that's probably a first. We keep beating ourselves. I'm frustrated we should have ran good at Daytona. That still bothers me. It's hard to get over races like that. I sit there and watch Vickers yesterday having the trouble he had. He seemed so upset, it makes everything that happened to me seem so small, because he's going for his first win ever. You remember how that shit plays out. You just take it one week at a time and we will see where we are at the end of this thing, but I want to win the championship so bad I can't really enjoy these second place finishes just yet.
Q: Are we seeing something different with the bodies on these cars, as far as ero-tight versus aero-loose?
"I didn't know what aero tight was until I went to Japan and raced my first cup race and it was like, you know, it was like pop quiz, you know, big exam Sunday, and I didn't know how to get around it. I mean, I had a pretty good car when we was racing there in Japan, but I didn't know what the hell aero push was and why it kept happening, and we have fought it ever since. You'll always fight it, as long as there's a car in front you punching a hole, you're going to have trouble getting around him. There's probably something that will make it not as bad, but I don't think they'll ever get rid of it totally unless they to the totally took the front air dams off and the spoilers off. I don't know if we need to drive '79 Monte Carlos or whatever. It's always going to be there. I mean, Jeff when he got up behind me he would get me loose getting in the corner, but I knew as soon as I got in the center I would be so tight I couldn't turn. You can make somebody loose, but normally you're fighting push. You saw it all day long, guys would run all the way up to somebody, driving the straightaway, run them down get to them and it was the same way with lap cars, you would come in, change tires, go back out. You couldn't pass the slowest car in the field for ten lapse until he wore his tires out or his set up went away, but it was tough.