Kerry Earnhardt in the Supercuts Chevrolet was The RaybestosÂ® Rookie of the Race at Kansas. He finished second to race winner Jeff Burton. He took top RaybestosÂ® Rookie Honors for the first time this season. He led the race once for nine...
Kerry Earnhardt in the Supercuts Chevrolet was The Raybestos® Rookie of the Race at Kansas. He finished second to race winner Jeff Burton. He took top Raybestos® Rookie Honors for the first time this season. He led the race once for nine laps, the first laps he has led in his Busch Series Career. The Kansas event is Earnhardt'S first career top-five and third top-10 finish.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FINISH SECOND HERE AT KANSAS?
"It means a lot. I would have loved to have won the race but Jeff Burton was the class of the field. He always run good and he has a lot of experience under him. Outside of him we had the best car today. The car was running good and team has been awesome. All weekend we kept getting faster and faster. In Happy Hour we wound up finishing seventh and I knew then we had a good car. We're excited to finally finish a race and not wreck in the top-five, top-two I should say."
ABOUT HALF-WAY THROUGH THE RACE YOUR CAR PICKED UP. WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE TO THE CAR?
"I don't think we ever made any adjustments all day. It was just at the beginning of the race being cautious. It's a long race and it pays off for us."
HOW BIG IS THIS RUN?
"It's big. Outside of the 9 car (Jeff Burton) being the class act, we had the best car here. The car ran good. The Fitz-Bradshaw race team did an awesome job. Bob (Temple, crew chief) made some good calls on fuel strategy and tires and it paid off for us. We didn't have anything for the 9 car. I was hoping he would get tangled up in some lap traffic and not be able to come up through there like he did. He's good at this and that's why he's been here a while."
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD WHAT IT TOOK TO HOLD OFF BURTON ON THAT RESTART?
"I knew he would be coming back because Jeff is awful fast here. I knew I could get a good jump on him because he was back there in a little bit of traffic with lapped cars and stuff. I knew once he cleared that he was coming. I was trying to get out front as far as I could and hopefully run out of time."
THIS WAS RACE WHERE YOU RAN THE WHOLE DAY AND DIDN'T HAVE ANY MISFORTUNE.
"This shows that without getting wrecked or making a stupid mistake we have good runs. We were running fourth and got wrecked a couple of times. We got wrecked running fifth a couple of times. All year we've run good, top four or five and end up getting wrecked. If that doesn't happen we have a good run. It feels great, awesome."
WHAT DOES THIS RUN DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE AS A DRI VER?
"My confidence has always been there. I knew I had a lot to learn. I've made a lot of mistakes in my racing career. For Greg Biffle to come over here and throw water on me and think of me like that is awesome. Greg has been a good friend since I've been in this series and he has helped me a whole lot. We hang out and talk and he gives me a lot of advice and has helped me through this year. It's been fun hanging out with him and learning as much as I can because he is leading the points."
AFTER THE UPS AND DOWNS YOU'VE HAD THIS SEASON, HOW GOOD DOES THIS RUN FEEL?
"It feels great. We struggled all season and to be able to stay out of trouble and use our head finally and not make any stupid mistakes or get tangled up with someone else, it shows. We're a competitive team and there's more to come after this."
THAT WAS A GUTSY CALL TO TAKE FUEL ONLY ON THE LAST STOP.
"We had to, we only had about six or seven laps on that set of tires and there wasn't any use in throwing them away because the tires last a good while here. Goodyear brought us a great tire. The (lap) times never fell off; they stayed consistent the whole race. I was comfortable with that and knew that we had a good car."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU FOR SO MANY OF YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS TO COME BY AND CONGRATUALATE YOU AFTER THE RACE?
"All the guys keep telling me that one day it will be my turn. We've had some times with the 18 and the 47, but we're still friends. I still pick on them and cut up with them. They all give me all kinds of advice and it helps a lot. Michael Waltrip has been in this series forever and he's running good and just listening to those guys helps me a whole lot. To have them come up and tell me how great of a job I've done boosts my confidence even higher."
YOU HAVE BEEN COMMUNICATING WITH THE TEAM BETTER OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS.
"It's really not speaking out, it's communicating with them. I haven't done that all year. We started doing that and things have gotten better for us. It's shows today how things can end up."
SELECTED QUOTES FROM EARNHARDT POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
"I wanted to win real bad, but I knew I couldn't hold Jeff off. Once he got around traffic he run me down in no time. He's like that everywhere he goes. Just to be able to run with Joe (Nemechek) and Jeff and all these guys up front, you don't know how good it feels. It feels great to know that we could do this. Without the mistakes I've made this through this year and a few incidents that we've been involved in, the car has been real competitive every week. We would be running fourth or fifth and I'd make a mistake and push the car too hard and end up getting in wreck or either somebody losing the car and wrecking me. It was a blast racing with Joe. We rubbed a lot but I was comfortable rubbing with him. I was against the wall and he was rubbing me on the inside but I was comfortable with that. It was fun. I enjoyed it and I had a blast."
YOU CHOSE TO TAKE ONLY FUEL ON THAT LAST STOP.
"My tires had been real consistent the whole race. It really didn't fall off a lot and the car handled good all day. We made one long run there and we stayed consistent and the car stuck right on the bottom. On the second to the last stop we came in and took on four tires and fuel and went back out and six or seven laps later or whatever it was we had another caution. There was no use coming in and taking two tires or four tires when you have fresh tires on and they don't go away. Goodyear brought a great tire here this year. It was splash of gas and go and get back out there and don't loose as much track position as you can. Try to get back out there and stay up front. We knew we had a fast car all day and just being cautious and patient with it paid off."
BRIAN VICKERS, EMP/VICTORY JUNCTION GANG DODGE. VICKERS WAS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT EARLY IN THE RACE AND CREDITED WITH A 39TH PLACE FINISH. HE WAS NOT INJURED IN THE INCIDENT.
"It was one of those deals. We got wrecked. We had a really good car today and I was having a great time. I was really happy and proud to carry Mr. Goodcents and Victory Junction Gang camp on the car. We lost some spots in the pits. It was a miscommunication there. I think a lot of guys took two tires and we took four. We were back there in the back with a bunch of crazies, I guess. I was right behind Kenny Wallace. I respect him and he's taught me a lot this year. He kind of cut me off a little bit but he was racing, too. Somebody may have been coming down on top of him; I don't know the circumstances. I tried to avoid him and then the 25 just flat hit me in the left rear and took me out. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to avoid Kenny; maybe I should have done what the 25 done. I don't know. We're going to get it back together and we'll be at Charlotte and see what we can do there."