NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 16, 2011
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, met with media and discussed qualifying and racing at Talladega, tandem drafting, radio communications, and more. Full Transcript:
THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS, WE’VE GOT TO GET TO THE SNAKE PRANK (VIDEO), WHO’S IDEA WAS IT AND HOW DID IT COME TOGETHER AND DAMN, IT WAS FUNNY!
“Was it funny? Well, we were doing a photo shoot and thought that one of my buddy’s son does that at the auto fair all the time, about twice a year, and we’ve have some fun with it around the farm, and stuff. We figured we’d have fun with the employees a little bit to see how it went. And it kind of grew from there and got out of hand. It was pretty fun, though.”
WHAT DIDN’T WE SEE?
“Oh, you saw everything. We’ve got more ideas, but we’ll see.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TODAY’S NATIONWIDE SERIES RACE? WHAT WILL WE SEE WITH EXPANDED COMMUNICATIONS AND THE BAD STORMS LAST NIGHT?
“Well, yeah; I guess we’ll get started whenever it’s supposed to start and we’ll just start racing, I guess. I don’t know. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and finding somebody to push me around there all day long.”
DOES IT HELP YOU WHEN YOU’RE RACING THE RACE TO GAUGE YOUR TEAM AS WELL, AND HELP YOUR TEAM? IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU’RE THE LEADER OF THE TEAM AND YOU’LL BE OUT THERE TODAY, WHICH IS PROBABLY HELPFUL.
“Yeah, it does give you a good idea about how good your stuff is and how capable your cars are when you get in them yourself to see what they can do, definitely.”
ON THE STRATEGY CHANGE COMING TO TALLADEGA AS OPPOSED TO WHAT YOU USED AT DAYTONA. IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC WITH THE WAY YOU APPROACH IT?
“No, not really, I just try not to wreck or try harder not to wreck (laughs).”
WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF COMING HERE?
“I didn’t really come here until; I don’t think I was here at all in the ’80’s. I came here in the early ’90’s I think for the first couple of times; maybe ’91 or ’92.”
WHY DIDN’T YOU COME HERE IN THE EIGHTIES?
“I don’t know why. I guess I was just school time or something, but I just remember running around in the garage and the old garage just had that big old tall roof and it was open and you could just have a lot of fun running around in there.”
WHEN YOU STARTED DRIVING, DID YOU GET IT RIGHT AWAY HERE? DID YOU UNDERSTAND HOW TO RUN HERE RIGHT AWAY AND DID YOU HAVE THAT CONFIDENCE?
“I wrecked a couple of times in the first two Nationwide races I ran here; so no, I didn’t do well at Daytona either. It took about six races before I figured out what not to do. And I started learning what to do after a while, I guess.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW GOOD YOUR SPRINT CUP CAR IS? OR WILL YOU NOT REALLY KNOW UNTIL YOU RACE TOMORROW?
“I think everybody is the same. Everybody’s cars are the same.”
THE SAME AS DAYTONA, OR EVERYBODY IS JUST THE SAME OVERALL?
“Overall. It’s a matter of however you push and I don’t know. They’re all the same and you just get out there an push somebody around the race track.”
SO DO YOU CARE WHERE YOU QUALIFY TODAY?
“No. Nothing is important about it other than picking pits and just getting a good stall. You’d like to get a stall with an opening and one to get in and out safely; that’s important. There’s where qualifying comes into play today.”
THE OLD WAY, WITH THE BIG DRAFT, YOU ALWAYS REALLY ENJOYED THAT. YOU DON’T SEEM OVERLY PUMPED ABOUT RACING HERE.
“I don’t really like the two-car stuff. It’s, I don’t know; just silly.”
DO YOU EVERY VISUALIZE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE BACK IN VICTORY LANE IN A CUP RACE?
“Yeah, I’ve daydreamed about that all my life.”
WE ARE A QUARTER OF THE WAY THROUGH THE SEASON SO FAR. HOW WOULD YOU GRADE YOUR TEAM?
“I think it would be about a C plus or a B minus. We’re doing better than we did last year and we’ve got a couple more gains to make on our finishing positions and I think across the board, could do just a little bit better, performance-wise. And we’re working hard and trying to keep up our momentum and trying to improve. I think we’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle and getting them in the right place.”
WITH THE OFF-WEEKEND COMING UP, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE WORKING ON TO PUT ALL THOSE PIECES OF THE PUZZLE TOGETHER?
“I ain’t going to work on it (laughter). I’m going to chill (laughs).”
ARIC ALMIROLA WAS TALKING ABOUT YOU PUSHING HIM AND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE WHEN YOU PUSH VERSUS OTHER PEOPLE. HE SAYS HE DOESN’T GET AS OUT OF CONTROL AND CAN STILL DRIVE THE CAR. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THAT FEELING?
“Well, I don’t really know. I don’t really think that much into it. I just get out there and push somebody and hope I can find somebody. You just got to find somebody to push and just push em. That’s all there is to it.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE AT DAYTONA TO HAVE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO YOUR RADIO CHANNEL OR YOU GO TO OTHER’S CHANNELS?
“It’s all right. I never got in the habit of changing. I never change a channel. I guess we are willingly giving our radio signal out to people if they want it, but I would like to just hope that I can work with Jimmie (Johnson) or anybody with a Hendrick engine under their hood and that would be the easiest way to go about it. But to consider having pretty much the whole field in your radio; I’m hoping this kind of racing goes away fast so we don’t have to talk about this no more. It’s a mess. This is a bunch of crap (laughter).”
WHY IS THAT? “Ya’ll don’t really look at it and think it’s strange?”
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT? “Watch how fast these Cup cars qualify today. We’ll be lucky to break 180 (m.p.h.)
ISN’T IT JUST A PRODUCT OF THE TRACK? “No! Were we doing this for the last 15 years? We weren’t doing it when it was brand-new; the asphalt. It was like that. I don’t know man. I’m not an engineer. Might take a physics major to figure it out. You remember when, you know, when we would go out to practice and even the few fans that are here on a Thursday or a Friday, that’s pretty interesting to them to watch guys out there practicing. How interesting was practice yesterday? It just doesn’t…I mean everybody thinks it is cool now ’cause it’s new and it’s neat and WOW, what is going on. Everybody is getting a big kick out of it. Over the long haul, man, it’s not the best. It is not as good as 40 dudes in one pack racin’ like hell tryin’ to get to the front. It is nowhere near as good as that. Give me that any day over this. Over the long haul people will realize it and go ‘Yeah, ok.’ The novelty of this…once new of all this wears off how interesting this is and how unique it is wears off, I think that people will start to see. I think it’s…”
DO YOU THINK NASCAR IS GOING THE WRONG WAY WITH THE [RESTRICTOR] PLATES? “I don’t know. I think NASCAR is doing what they think is right and I don’t want to say what they are doing is wrong, ’cause I don’t know. I don’t know whether I’m right or wrong. I just know what I prefer; what I like. It’s my opinion; I’m entitled to one. Everybody’s got one. I don’t know what’s right or wrong.”
SOME PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE ARE SAYING BEHIND THE SCENES THAT THEY THINK IT WON’T BE LONG BEFORE NASCAR WILL NOT ALLOW OTHER TEAMS TO BE ON THE RADIOS; THEY WILL SAY NOT DO THAT. DO YOU THINK? “I don’t know what the hell. What does it matter?”
DOES IT SEEM WRONG TO CHANGE OR TALK TO A COMPETITOR BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE SPORT SO LONG? “Nah.”
DOES IT GO AGAINST THE HISTORY? “Not really. That doesn’t feel wrong to me. I don’t have a problem working with anybody or talking to anybody. I think it is easier to do it that way. For years when we’ve been racing, you’ve always needed somebody to help you draft and it would have been great to be able to communicate with that person while you were racing. We just never really went out of our way to do it.”
BACK THEN YOU HAD HAND SIGNALS, YOU DIDN’T HAVE AS MUCH STUFF IN THE CARS TO ADOPT IT: “Yeah. Well, it ain’t really what’s in the car; it’s what’s on the back of the car. Big giant spoiler stickin’ up there.”
WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF IT HAD BEEN A DIFFERENT ERA AND JANET JACKSON HAD SHOWED HER BOOBIES AT THE SUPER BOWL…”Come again? Did you say boobies?”
I DID: “You did.”
AND THEN THAT MADE NASCAR OVER-REACT WITH THE SWEARING PENALTIES AND ALL THAT STUFF, THEN YOU HADN’T GOT CAUGHT SWEARING, WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF IT HAD BEEN A DIFFERENT TIME AND YOU’D HAVE SAID THAT IN VICTORY LANE, YOU WOULD HAVE HAD THOSE POINTS BACK. DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE WITH THOSE POINTS IN ’04? “I might have beat Mark Martin for position in points that year, that is probably about it. We sucked at Homestead and weren’t going to be able to battle whoever won the championship that year. But I was close enough…me and Mark battled it out that day for fourth or something in points.”
YOU DON’T THINK JANET JACKSON’S BOOBIES COST YOU THE CHAMPIONSHIP? “Hell no, man. That is a hell of a…”
IT WAS A STRETCH: “Yeah. I like it.”
YOU THINK THIS TYPE OF RACING MAKES IT MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO MEDIOCRITY WINNING, BECAUSE YOU SAID EVERYBODY’S GOT THE SAME CAR, SO…” “No, I don’t think so. Look at the guys that have won here the last couple of trips. They are good. They are talented. They won because they are talented. Nine times out of 10, that is going to be the case. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500. He’s got enough talent to do it. He was smart, used his head and did what he needed to do. You have got to give anybody that wins even this weekend-wins this ARCA race today, you have to do something right to do it. To make it happen. Not just a baffoon riding around there luckin’ into to everything. So, I think, you can’t discredit what anybody’s ever done to win a race no matter what track it is or where it is at.”
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