NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 11, 2014
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed last week’s accident at Texas, JR Motorsports victory at Texas with driver Chase Elliott and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT RACING HERE AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY:
“It’s been around a long time. One of the toughest race tracks physically that we race on, tough track mentally. 500 miles here is a really long race because the track is quite a big race track and the pace slows down. You are working so hard in the corner so just one lap around here is a lot of work. To have to run 500 miles it’s a pretty tough test of man and machine. This track is starting to grey up pretty good so I’m looking forward to getting out there in practice and seeing what we’ve got.”
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO WATCH JEFFERY EARNHARDT RACE AND SEE HOW HE IS DOING?
“I watch him every week during the Nationwide races. I think he’s done a couple of good things with that team. Had a great qualifying effort at Bristol and got spun out the first lap of the race. He has had some other good situations that I’ve seen where he’s had some speed in practice or in qualifying and in particularly in the race he has done well on a few occasions. We keep an eye on him. Him and I are close he lives real close to me. He’s supposed to come over to the house Sunday to hang out a little bit. I mean we stay pretty tight.”
COULD YOU ELABORATE ON CHASE ELLIOTT AS YOU SAID ‘BEING BETTER THAN HE KNOWS HE IS’ AND BILL’S (ELLIOTT) INFLUENCE ON CHASE?
“What I meant about Bill (Elliott) is just Bill’s demeanor his calm demeanor. He is not excitable and I think that helps Chase a lot. I think that has molded Chase into the person that he is. As Chase has grown up I think he has taken a lot of his father’s mental makeup and intuition and certain personality traits that have been a big help to Bill in his racing career. Just basically how calm Bill is and how much of a student to racing Bill was. I think that Chase really is very similar. He has just got a lot of talent. I think every once in a while there are some guys that come in here that they don’t know how good they are. They haven’t competed against this type of competition before and drove cars this well prepared before. Or been in a series of this nature, so they don’t really know how much they stack up against the competition. But as an outsider looking in you can see certain guys have more than others. Chase is really ahead of the game right now. He should continue to progress and continue to learn and hopefully be real quick in the next 24 months he is going to turn into something pretty awesome that will be a force in the sport for a while. I’m excited about it just to have a guy like that come in with that pedigree. He has got real potential to be a force for a long time so it will be exciting.”
WAS JAMES FINCH THE PRIMARY GUY WHO CONNECTED YOU, RICK (HENDRICK) AND CHASE (ELLIOTT)? HOW DID YOU AND RICK FIND OUT ABOUT CHASE?
“I can’t speak for Rick (Hendrick) on the deal. If I had to guess I would say that (James) Finch had some great words to say and influenced some of Rick’s opinions. But I just kept hearing him winning races and beating good competition; winning races against guys that were surprising. He was doing some good work in the late models, super late models and he was handling himself in a real professional manner. As important as it is that he is successful on the track, it’s also equally and maybe more so important that he is a level head off the track. That makes it so much easier to deal with him, to want to work with him, to want to help him and to market him.”
HOW DID YOU GET OVER LAST WEEK? HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU SPEND THIS WEEK BEATING YOURSELF UP OVER IT? HOW WAS THE REACTION ON TWITTER COMPARED TO WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE?
“I guess Twitter can be a help in a situation like that. I mean my fans certainly have a back and tell you to brush it off, don’t worry about it. I’m sure there are some people on there saying the opposite, but I didn’t see many of those or any of those. There is a positive and a negative to everything. I didn’t really spend a lot of time on Twitter this week because we were working at Michigan. We had some things to do Thursday. Twitter is a bit of a playground and I don’t want to horse around if we are not doing good. I don’t want to be on there goofing off and making light of the situation because it was a frustrating mistake. It was something I don’t take very lightly. Just being able to get back in the car and test at Michigan was a big help for me to get past it and to get focused on the next race. This is a tough event at Darlington. We’ve got some decent runs here but we haven’t really come here and had a race that we thought we lost. This is going to be a tough place to come rebound, but we are going to give it our best. I’m just glad to be back at the track. Go ahead and get a race or two in the bank and put it behind us.”
THE SPEEDS YOU GUYS WERE TURNING AT MICHIGAN THIS WEEK HOW REALISTIC THAT WE MIGHT SEE THOSE DURING THE RACE WEEKEND UP THERE?
“The track should slow down as it rubbers up, tightens up, get slicker. The seams will get slicker. So I don’t think we will see those kinds of speeds. That is basically what we saw in practice there last time. We may see those speeds in practice, but I doubt we will see those in the race. The race will slow down quite a bit or enough. I think we learned some things. I was really happy to have an opportunity to test with Goodyear and get an opportunity to get on the race track and learn. We did go through a lot of different tires and a lot of different constructions. The dual zone tire we tried a couple of different ones. We went through – they had about eight different sets of tires that they wanted to learn something’s about, some for Michigan, some for Kansas and other places. It was a productive test and even though we were cut short on the first day we were able to get a lot of information for Goodyear that I hope is going to be helpful to them. So it was good to be a part of that. I really enjoyed it. I love turning laps at Michigan. It’s a superfast race track. We weren’t able to really work on the set-ups of the cars that much at a tire test, but I like the speed that our car had compared to the guys I saw there.”
JR MOTORSPORTS HAS HAD A GREAT START THIS YEAR AND YOU GUYS PICKED UP A BIG WIN LAST WEEK AT TEXAS WITH CHASE BEHIND THE WHEEL. TALK ABOUT THE PROCESS:
“We feel real fortunate to have Chase (Elliott) in the program. He was going to go somewhere and be successful and we were lucky to be able to work with him. Feel fortunate to have him and be able to work with Bill (Elliott). Bill has been a lot of fun to work with. Having him spot for me a couple of times has been a blast. That is like an added perk to the whole deal. Chase has been a real pleasure. He has done a great job. He did an awesome job in Texas getting the car to Victory Lane. That team is poised for success and I feel like they have a great opportunity to continue that and continue winning races. It’s just a very exciting time for us, for NAPA and we have just got to sit here and wait and keep working hard and watch it play out. It’s going to be a long season and there is going to be some up’s and down’s, a
lot of things to learn. It’s not all going to be roses, but it’s definitely pointed in the right direction and we just want to give Chase a great opportunity to progress and learn as well as he can in the cars we have.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES