Chevy Racing–Homestead Post Race–Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NOVEMBER 17, 2013
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Leads Team Chevy at Homestead With Third Place Finish
Jimmie Johnson Captures His Sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship
HOMESTEAD, Florida (November 17, 2013) – Team Chevy driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, brought home his 10th top-five finish of the year by finishing third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  The Hendrick Motorsports driver finished the season with a career-high 22 top-ten finishes, and finished fifth in the overall standings – his highest point finish since 2006.
Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, came into the Ford EcoBoost 400 with a 28-point lead over Matt Kenseth in the the 2013 NSCS driver championship standings. Johnson did what he needed to do and finished ninth in the race, which enabled him to finish 19 points ahead of Kenseth for the title.  It is the sixth time in a record-setting eight-year span that Johnson has claimed the coveted crown.  His first five championships came consecutively in a run that started in 2006.
Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick was also in the running for the 2013 NSCS driver’s title – sitting just 34 markers behind Johnson before the final race.  Harvick brought his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS home in 10th position, his 21st top-ten of the year.   Unfortunately he was unable to gain any points on Johnson and finished the season in third place – 34 points out of the championship.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner, Kenseth (Toyota) was second, Martin Truex Jr. (Toyota) finished fourth, and Clint Bowyer (Toyota) rounded out the top five finishers.
This was the final race of the 2013 NSCS season.  
KERRY THARP:  Joining us now is our third‑place finisher today Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., a top‑five finish in the series points for you. Let’s hear first from Dale.  You looked like you were going to get in there and get that win, competed very hard today.  Really looked like the 88 team was on top of its game.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  Yeah, we’ve actually been really good every week since the Chase started.  I can’t remember, but I think we were pretty good at Chicago, blew a motor.
We came here and tested.  Really liked how that worked out.  Worked on the car real hard Saturday.  Worked on it real smart.  Felt like we had a car that was going to come to us and it surely did.  We weren’t that great at the start of the race, but as the race wore on, the thing really come to life.
Really happy to run as well as we have this season.  This has been one of the best years I’ve had, certainly the best year I’ve had working with Hendrick. Just want to give my team a lot of credit.  Steve Letarte, my engineers, did just an amazing job providing these good cars every week.
Hoping next year we continue that trend and that trajectory and get a shot at winning a championship.  I think we can do it.
KERRY THARP:  We’ll start with questions.
Q.  Now that the season is over, is it a relief that you can get some time off or is it bittersweet because both of you were having great seasons? Sometimes you lose the momentum in the off‑season.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  The off‑season is so short; it’s more sort of a formality.  Ever since I started working with Steve and that whole team I hadn’t wanted the years to end.  We seem to get better as the season goes.  You would just love to go to another race next week.
Q.  Dale, after the last nine weeks, do you look back at Chicago and think, Oh, man, what if?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  Probably wouldn’t have made a big difference.  We didn’t win enough races in the regular season.  We didn’t win any.  That was the difference.  When we started the Chase, we were already in the hole a little bit to Matt.  It’s too competitive.
Just like the end of this race, reason why I couldn’t get Matt is because he’s running second.  The guy in second, the guy in first, they’re not going to be easy to pass.
We just got behind in the regular season not winning enough, not doing enough to get bonus points.  Those guys did.  Those points are so important.  If you put a good 10 races together, add them bonus points on top of it, man, you’re going to be hard to beat.
Q.  Dale, you talked about how good your cars have been in the Chase.  Seems like they improved over the past 10 races.  Can you put your finger on one thing that your team has found?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  I’ve asked Steve over and over, asked my car chief, Jason, over and over, and asked everybody on the team at least once or twice what we’re doing different.  They said they’re not doing anything different.
You know, I really don’t know why.  I have the same feeling, like our cars are way faster.  We have been more competitive I think not as a company, I just think the 88 team has really stepped it up.
But each year, like I said, we’ve gotten better.  As a year, we’ve gotten better.  When we first started working together, it’s easy to forget about all this, but when me and Steve started working together, we were working our guts out to finish in the top 10.  Each year it’s kind of gotten easier to run a little better.
KERRY THARP:  Dale, congratulations on a super season.  We’ve enjoyed watching you guys.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.:  Thank you.