DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DALE JR. FOUNDATION/NATIONAL GUARD/DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET – FINISHED 5th
AN EVENTFUL NIGHT. THERE WERE SOME HIGH POINTS AND SOME LOW POINTS. WALK US THROUGH IT:
“First off I have to thank the Dale Jr. Foundation employees and all the people who donate and my sponsors Diet Mountain Dew and National Guard for allowing us to get this weekend to raise awareness and put the decals on the car. I want to thank Sprint and NASCAR for putting the race on, Chevrolet and everybody else. We had a good car, we had a fun weekend and good speed. I’m real happy with the way things look for next weekend. It was uneventful. We worked really hard and we didn’t have any problems. The shenanigans coming on to pit road for that last segment was kind of unnecessary as far as the whole thing was not necessary we could have just lined them up and let whoever wanted to come get tires, come get tires. I think you have to start on the front row to beat cars as good as the No. 48 to be able to compete with that team you have to start alongside of them, starting fourth was a little tough. We just didn’t have enough laps really to mount any kind of a challenge. I mean they were gone after about two or three laps.”
THAT LAST SEGMENT, DID YOU FEEL LIKE A BIG DISADVANTAGE GOING IN OR DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT?
“Anything is possible. My mind was open to whatever might happen in front of me and to try to reach out and take opportunities that presented themselves. I wasn’t really counting myself out just yet. If you are not on the front row for a 10 lap segment… two of the best drivers in the series started on the front row they are hard to beat in a 10 lap run.”
SOLID EFFORT ALL THE WAY AROUND THROUGH THE SHOWDOWN TO THE ALL-STAR RACE AS WELL YOU HAVE TO BE PLEASED WITH WHAT YOU GUYS HAD OUT THERE TONIGHT HOW WAS IT TO DRIVE?
“It was great. I want to thank all the employees of the Dale Jr. Foundation and all the fans who donated and help us with our causes. Our sponsors Diet Mountain Dew, National Guard for giving us the opportunity to raise awareness this weekend, put the decals on the cars and Chevrolet, Sprint and NASCAR for doing all this. I want to thank the fans for coming out we had an awesome crowd, the best crowd I’ve seen at a race in a long time. That was great to see. Our race was pretty uneventful we just ran really hard and tried the best strategy we could to put ourselves in position to win. I think we did the best we could.”
HOW MUCH DID THE TRACK CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
“Not a whole lot really. This track really doesn’t change a lot once the sun goes down it is pretty consistent.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF RICK (HENDRICK, TEAM OWNER) RIDING AROUND ON THE SIDE OF JIMMIE JOHNSON’S CAR AFTER HIS WIN?
“I guess you can talk him into anything (laughs). It is pretty awesome.”
WHAT DOES THIS SAY FOR YOUR 600? THIS HAS GOT TO BE SOME MOMENTUM FOR YOUR TEAM.
“Yeah, I think we showed what we are capable of doing here next weekend. We are probably going to bring the same car. We have a couple of ideas on how to make the car even faster, especially for qualifying that I hope will work out. I am real pleased with our effort. These races are little sprints and you really depend on the team to put the car out on the line ready to go, ready to take off, you can’t really wait for the car to come in or anything like that. Those guys did that all night. They built a great car. I had a lot of fun.”
THAT LAST RESTART MATT (KENSETH) SAID HE HAD A TERRIBLE TIME GETTING THE CAR GOING:
“He did, I tried not to spin him out or run into him. I figured we were not restarting in the best line. I knew even being Matt (Kenseth) I had a better opportunity. The leader has the opportunity; the leader is the guy who gets to take off first. You can’t match what he is going to do. You can only try to maintain and he is going to go first and he is going to beat you into the corner most of the time. He probably regrets and wishes he could have done a better job, but I think we were in a bad position just starting in that lane.”
WAS THE RACING AS FUN AND AS WILD AS THEY SAID?
“I enjoyed the race. I thought the cars drove well, my car drove the best it has drove here in a long time. I think we had an awesome crowd. I really don’t tend to notice too much as far as the capacity but I felt like we had a great group. That was really good to see. It seemed like everybody was really enjoying it even up before the race started the fans were really having a good time up there in the stands. I was sort of torn between where I wanted to be, in the car or in the stand (laughs).”
DID YOU NOTICE ANY DIFFERENCE WITH THE CHANGES IN THE SIDE SKIRTS?
“The car is just a little bit more of a handful to drive, but it is minimal. It was very small.”
THE ADVANTAGE FOR THE LEADER STILL SEEMS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME?
“Well, that is true. We did have some guys run up and pass the leader and just in a 20 lap segment when Denny (Hamlin) lost the lead the No. 5 and the No. 2 ran really close. Very close, normally we are having trouble getting within 10 car lengths of each other when cars are comparable to each other. “We saw some really close racing for the lead. I don’t think you can really take that 10 lap segment into account because of how good the No. 48 team is here and how good they are overall. I just thought it was awesome racing and I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. I don’t hate it.”
WITH THAT LAST SEGMENT AFTER MATT (KENSETH) BOBBLED DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DONE SINCE THAT WAS SUCH A SHORT RUN?
“Yeah, we were just working hard trying to gain what ground we could. Time was running out we were just trying to get as many positions as we could. We had put up a good fight all night and I just wanted to finish as well even though it didn’t look like we had an opportunity to win.”
HOW MUCH BETTER DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE 600 AFTER A SOLID NIGHT LIKE TONIGHT?
“Oh yeah, I mean when you run like this the week before it really makes you feel good. It really makes you look forward to it, not as many unknowns.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET FINISHED 17TH
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE RACE FORMAT?
“It didn’t matter. As slow as we were, we couldn’t take advantage of it anyway. So, it didn’t matter to me.”
DID YOU POSSIBLY LEARN ANYTHING THAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO BRING BACK HERE NEXT WEEK?
“Yeah; don’t bring back what we just ran tonight. It just wasn’t very good. We just struggled all night.”
IS IT SOMETHING SET-UP-WISE THAT HURT YOU TONIGHT?
“Yeah. That would be why we didn’t run good. I can drive it if it’s (good). We just missed it tonight. We’re not going to hit it every week and if you’re going to miss it, you’d rather miss it on a night like tonight than next week.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/CERTAIN TEED CHEVROLET – FINISHED 16TH
ON THE NIGHT
“After that one run we just got really tight. And then after that, it was okay; we just lost track position. But the car was really good. We just had something going on in the left front. I don’t know if we had something hanging up but the rotar was blown and built a lot of air pressure in the left front. It got really tight at that point and we just kind of lost all our track position from then. The car was pretty good. We just lost a lot of track position.
WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND KEVIN HARVICK DURING THE RACE?
“I haven’t seen a replay of it. He ran me down low off of (Turn) 2 and I have shown him nothing but respect since I got here and he hasn’t shown that back. So, whatever.”
ON THE FORMAT, DID YOU LIKE IT?
“This is the only one I’ve been in so, I thought it was pretty neat.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE – FINISHED 9TH:
ON THE NIGHT
“To beat Jimmie Johnson tonight; I don’t think it was going to happen. He was strong and I didn’t feel right in my car all night. So you know, it was our back-up car. I ruined the other one on Friday but the guys did a good job with this one; but yeah, that would have made a huge difference.”
YOU DIDN’T FEEL RIGHT?
“No. I just couldn’t get it to enter the corner right and go through the center right. It was just different.”
IS THAT WHY YOU WERE RUNNING THE HIGH SIDES?
“Yeah, I couldn’t run on the bottom. I was struggling out there. So, we still have decent speed in the Cup cars and they’re obviously fast. The No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) shows that, but we’ve just got to get a little better for me.”
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING NEW OR BETTER FOR NEXT WEEK?
“Yeah, I did. I learned a couple of things not to do.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FORMAT?
“It actually seemed better once we got going than I expected. It puts a lot on those first three races especially to come into the pits up front and have the freshest tires on your car when you do hit the pits and just make that quick stop and go. It puts some pressure on you for that and then also the fuel mileage. If you stay out for the first two (segments), you’ve got to pit and get gas. It’s kind of tough. I like the format. I thought the format was better this year than in the past. But let’s face it, it will change again next year. It always does.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER/RHEEM CHEVROLET – FINISHED SIXTH
ON HIS RACE:
“It was pretty cool to see the difference that the tires made at the end. We just needed a 20 lap segment at the end.”
ARE YOU A FAN OF THE 10-LAP SHOOTOUT AT THE END?
“No, we didn’t win.”
DID YOU NOTICE ANY DIFFERENCE WITH THE CHANGE IN THE SIDE SKIRTS AND HOW THE CARS DROVE?
“It seemed like there was a lot of good racing for this particular race track. It seemed like you had a few guys that could run up top but most everything was on the bottom, but no big difference.”
DAMAGE FROM WHEN YOU GOT INTO PAUL DID IT HURT THE CAR A LOT?
“It was mostly cosmetic it didn’t seem to change the handling at all. Just hit is with the quarter panel back there.”
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