NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MAY 22, 2014
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/SUPERMAN CHEVROLET SS met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway today to discuss a new paint scheme for his car, his goal of winning a point’s race at Charlotte and his ‘Wrecked Car Graveyard’, among other topics. Full transcript:
TALK TO US ABOUT THE PAINT SCHEME FOR THIS SPECIAL WEEK AT CHARLOTTE:
“It’s a pretty neat deal. HMS (Hendrick Motorsports) has teamed up with DC Comics to do a three-year program. This particular weekend, Superman and the National Guard are getting together. Basically what DC Comics wants to promote on this particular weekend is their Superman Hall of Heroes, which is an online gift-giving portal where you can go and induct someone that you think deserves that title. It’s a pretty neat deal. There are some things that I know but can’t talk about that we will be revealing later. It’s a good-looking race car. I hope it is fast. I’m hoping we can go out there and run good. We’ve worked with DC Comics in the past and had some pretty good success when we’ve done that. We had a Superman car in ’99 at Phoenix in the Nationwide Series where we wrapped up the championship there. We had Batman on the car in 2012 when we won at Michigan. We’ve had some pretty good history. Hopefully we can have a good run. I’d love to win here. We haven’t won here in a points-paying race. This is a track where that I always got to come to ever since I was old enough to get to the race track, so we haven’t missed many races here. I sure would love to win one here. It’s been very difficult to do. The 600 would be in the top-five of my favorite wins if I can get that this weekend.”
WHAT CHALLENGES WILL CHASE ELLIOTT FACE AS THE SON OF A NASCAR LEGEND?
“I don’t think he’ll face a lot of challenges early because when you’re young, you’re a bit naïve to all that and all the things going on around you. You just really worry and care about driving the car, enjoying what you’re doing, working with the team and hanging out with your friends. You don’t understand and you don’t recognize and notice a lot of the storm around you. It takes a couple of years before you start to understand how big a thing this really is. So I think that for the first couple years being naïve is a bit of a blessing. He seems to be just focusing on only the particulars – driving the car, enjoying himself. He’s very soft-spoken and quiet. I think that will serve him pretty well the first several years. After about 12 or 24 months in the Cup series, you start to realize exactly how big this thing is and how powerful this sport is. That’s when you start to have trouble keeping your foot off your mouth and keeping your head on straight.”
OTHER THAN A CHAMPIONSHIP, IS THE NO. 1 RACE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
“This is definitely a race I’d love to win. I want to win a point’s race here so bad because we live just right down the road. I’ve been coming here since I’ve been a kid. I remember sitting up in the press box watching qualifying for the ’83 race, and that was probably one of my first real memories of going to a Cup event. Once they built those condos over there in One and Two, we never missed a race and we watched a lot of them over there in the mid-80s and early-80s.
“We watched a lot of races over on the last corner of the road course up on the hill with most of our family and all the Eury’s and everybody. We just always came here, and it’s frustrating that I haven’t won a race here other than the All-Star event. We’ve had some good cars but not anywhere near good enough. There are a lot of other race tracks where I think, ‘Man we were really close’ or the car was fast enough. But I’ve never really had a car here that I thought we had it, we were walking away and we gave it away. We always seem to get outrun here but hopefully this weekend we can change that.”
WHAT IS KURT BUSCH DOING “THE DOUBLE” DO TO ELEVATE RESPECT AMONG THE DRIVERS? DO YOU LOOK AT HIM IN A LITTLE DIFFERENT WAY FOR GOING OUT AND DOING THIS?
“I really like the work he is doing with The Armed Forces and it says a lot about what’s important to him more than anything he is doing on the race track. He’s doing some amazing work and making an impact. That’s doing a lot for him – like it matters – in my eyes. I respect him a lot more because of that. The racing thing… hell, we all like to race so I can understand his enjoyment of doing the Indy deal. I can’t wait to watch and pull for him. He’s representing the entire sport. Whether he knows it or not, he’s got a lot of people, drivers, crew and just about everyone on the infield pulling for him to do well because he is representing all of us. He’s definitely put in a strong effort to make a different impression. I have to hand it to him. He’s done a lot of work.”
GOING TO DOVER, ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A LITTLE REDEMPTION AFTER FINISHING SECOND, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THAT RACE?
“I just learned that Jimmie is really hard to beat at Dover. We came so close. I ran those last 20 or 30 laps over and over after that trying to think about where I might have given up a little bit or not seized an opportunity. But it was nice that we had a good car, and I hope we can be as competitive when we go back obviously. But I like racing there and we definitely ran well. We will just have to be really aggressive. We were aggressive on restarts and that paid off. We fought for positions in the middle part of the race that seemed meaningless. By the end of the race, those instances I could add up and say that’s how we got that track position and get to where we were in a position to race Jimmie. So I learned a lot in that particular event.”
STICKING ON THE SUPERMAN THEME, IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SPECIAL POWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
“Super-human strength would be the best one to have, I think. Being able to pick stuff up and throw it across the yard would be fun. You can impress your friends and show off for the ladies. You could sit down and think about it; they all have their positives. Super-human strength would be pretty cool.”
WHAT WOULD YOU THROW?
“Oh I don’t know. Maybe my friends and I would go to a junkyard and toss some cars around. That would be pretty harmless, right?”
ARE YOU EVER FASCINATED AT THE CURIOSITY OVER YOUR WRECKED CAR GRAVEYARD? ARE YOU ADDING CARS AT A MORE RAPID CLIP THESE DAYS OR DOES IT SEEM THAT WAY BECAUSE YOU’RE ABLE TO POST PHOTOS ON TWITTER?
“I think it’s the Twitter thing. I think people are learning about me on Twitter over the last little bit. We’ve collected cars there for a long time. It’s not like I go looking for every wreck that we have or anyone has. A lot of times they’re offered up or I’ll call up a buddy that’s a crew chief or something. I called (Steve) Addington and asked Steve about the 51 car. I know Harry Scott pretty well so I figured if they were going to throw it away I could at least have it. I don’t know why I want them or even why we go get them. When JR Motorsports first started with Pro Cup and Late Model, we’d put so much money into building those cars. When we’d tear them up, I couldn’t see throwing them away or scrapping them so we’d stick them in the woods. So if we have 80 cars now, the first 30 or 40 are JR Motorsports or Late Models or something related to me or my company and we just kept plugging them in there. Then Brad Keselowski… y’all remember when Brad’s daddy owned a Nationwide car that wrecked at Talladega in (Turn) 4 and it flipped up into the wall? I forget who was driving but he used to be track champion at Hickory… Dennis Setzer was driving it. Brad gave me that car and it started with getting cars like that. Brad lives right next to me and said, ‘Hey man, we’re going to throw this awa
y. Do you want this car?’ We put that in there and that got me thinking that I’ll get other people’s cars and not just me. I called Chip about the Jet Dryer car. He said I could put it out there as long we didn’t take any pictures of it. He just didn’t want a lot of publicity with it being out there. Then I got the C-post car from Chad Knaus because I think they wrecked it the first lap of the race. The hard part is that if people want to know if there are tours and can they come look at it. I feel kind of bad because it’s on my property. It’s like that western town that I build. It will be there way after I’m gone and someone will walk back there and say, ‘What the hell is this doing here? And who put it here?’ Then my name will come up and they will remember me.”
“I don’t know. I may need to go count. There are sides and noses and hoods hanging up in the trees. There’s all kind of quirky stuff back there. My property manager has a weird sense of humor. He’ll stick those things in some odd places. He got a truck from Brad Keselowski that he nosed into the side of the creek. It’s half-buried in the creek and funny-looking sticking out that like that. It’s fun. We go back there riding through there in the golf carts and my mom goes walking back there… you see something new every time.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES