DALE EARNHARDT, JR. speaks with the media at Chicagoland Speedway….
Q: HERE IN 2007 WHEN BRAD KESELOWSKI MADE HIS FIRST START HOW BIG WAS HE IN TERMS OF ESTABLISHING YOUR ORGANIZATION AS CAPABLE OF WINNING RACES AND CONTENDING:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“He was the first driver that gave us that opportunity. I guess we him as much credit as he owes us on the deal.”
Q: HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM NOW?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“I think it is important that me and him stay good friends. He’s going to need all the friends he can stand throughout his career. I think that I can continue to help him just as a supporter. He is a good guy and I like him and I want to see him do well and I think he will.”
Q: TALK ABOUT JIMMIE (JOHNSON) GOING FOR HIS SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP AND YOU TRYING TO UPSET THAT:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“I think it is impressive what he has done. We are given an opportunity to race for it this year, so, we’re going to put up our best battle.”
Q: DO YOU LIKE THESE COOLER TEMPERATURES FOR RACING?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“I don’t know; I don’t know if they’re better to race in. But, it’s been pretty hot this summer in general so it is kind of nicer. But I don’t if it’s better racing. The grip will be better, but I don’t know if that is good for racing. Might be bad for racing.”
Q: ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE COMMENTS JEFF GORDON MADE YESTERDAY ABOUT PAUL MENARD?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“I am familiar. I read that in the USA Today.”
Q: DO TEAMMATES HELP EACH OTHER OUT ON THE TRACK
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“We’re all human beings; so, yes. Things will happen and things do happen and things like that probably do go on. As long as human beings are involved, there will be a certain level of corruption, you know.”
Q: HAVE YOU EVER HELPED A TEAMMATE OUT IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “I can’t say that I’ve ever done anything compared to what Jeff was insinuating in his comments. But, I’ve tried to help myself out by bringing out a caution so maybe that is about the same thing I guess. (LAUGHS) I got in trouble though. If you do anything like that, you just can’t admit it.”
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT LOUDON (NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY)?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“I like Loudon. Just getting the car to turn in the middle is important. That track is really flat and it is very hard to get a car to rotate in the middle of the corner really good.”
Q: HOW IS IT DIFFERENT IN A PLAYOFF SITUATION?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“There is a certain level of pressure that you put on yourself being involved in it. It is completely different when you’re…I don’t know if you enjoy one over the other. For example, if once the Redskins lose a playoff game, it would probably be as upsetting and disappointing if myself losing my opportunity; if my opportunity slip away throughout the Chase should that happen. The big difference is in the Chase, you’re doing the work. You and your team putting in the grind and going over the notes and from the moment you wake up in the moment until the time you go to bed, you’re thinking of how you could be better, all the time. Going over notes. Thinking about this. Thinking about changes you made. Beating your head against the wall every for second you’re awake until it’s over.”
Q: YOU HAVE THE BEST RECORD ON MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS OF ANYBODY IN THE CHASE THIS YEAR, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: ”Really? Damn, somebody ought to pat me on the back. (LAUGHS) I did something good this year. Yea, that’s good. We’ve had a good run this year. We’ve been a good team. We really overshadowed just how good we were with how poorly we ran the last 10 weeks. The struggles we had really overshadowed how good we were this year. Hopefully we’ll have this opportunity in the Chase to prove to everyone and ourselves how good we can be and it starts today. I’m ready to get in here and talk to Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and see what the plan is for this practice and get my suit on and get in the car and be ready.”
Q: ANY CURIOSITY TO SEE HOW THE KURT (BUSCH)/JIMMIE (JOHNSON) THING PLAYS OUT?
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “I have no curiosity to see how that plays out. It bores the s***t out of me to be honest. It’s probably exciting to you guys; but, I’m concerned about my championship run and what I can do to be as good as I need to be. I’ve got my own damn problems to worry about. Not very interesting. Sorry.”