NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Daytona 500
Topics: Daytona 500
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our second and third place finishers, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Reed Sorenson. You guys had a pretty good run out there today. Either one of you want to take the mic and talk about your run there at the end.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I was pretty happy. We stayed out of trouble for half of the race, kind of riding around. It was pretty fun back there. When it was time to get up there in the middle, we got up there in the middle. Got to racing with them. It was tough to pass. The outside wasn't moving too good. So we finally -- I stayed out on -- I stayed out on a caution and got the lead. And I thought I was going to be in good shape. Tony and them come on around the outside. We got our restart, on that last restart, and Martin and Reed were a little bit far behind, but they were committed to help me at least till the last couple laps, then they was going to race. Me and Martin is teammates, you know. We were -- we got our restart, and there was two minutes room between us all. Once we got down the back straightaway, Reed and Martin caught me, they were coming so fast, they had the rest of the pack behind them, so they committed to stay with me where they had to lift a lot. Harvick got going around the outside, then Tony got going around the outside of him. I don't know where he came from. He had some nice tires on. He is the only driver with a set of tires left. That paid off for him, and he got the win.
THE MODERATOR: I'm going to correct myself. Reed is our top finishing rookie, finished ninth. We've been joined by Kevin Harvick, as well. Reed?
REED SORENSON: Well, he made me nervous quite a few times there near the end (laughter). He was hitting me pretty hard.
KEVIN HARVICK: I was trying to lower your spoiler. Every time I'd hit you, it would come down about a quarter inch.
REED SORENSON: It may have. I had a good time out there. That's my first time pretty much being in a pack like that. I ran the ARCA race at Talladega, but it wasn't anything like that. I was kind of upset there that I ended ninth, but I kind of looked up at the score board and realized that all those guys around me are Cup guys. I'm pretty happy where we finished. It's my first run for me here, first run for our team. I think when we come back here in July, we'll have a pretty good shot to do the same thing.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, you just hopped in. You had a pretty good run there at the end of the race.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah. I mean, our car was good all day and we kind of took a different strategy today so that we didn't beat the fenders off and stuff like we did last time. We just kind of hung out. Our car was really tight. We saved all our tires during practice and had another set of tires left there at the end. Came in and made some more adjustments, came out and had a good pit stop. I was behind Reed. We got that restart, and they all piled up behind me and I got out in front of Nemechek and was able to get up alongside of him. I have no idea where the 33 came from. But if there was one coming, it was either the 33 or the 2 that was going to be okay. We got down and cleared the 81 and were able to come home second. But all in all, it was a pretty good day.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, your car won the race, the car that you own. Can you talk about that?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah. I mean, that's something that we've been working on for the last year or so, to put together slowly. We put the trucks together with Matt Crafton last year and GM Goodwrench. We decided to put Busch cars together. Tony wanted to drive. Mr. Clean came aboard to support it. I'm excited for him. I mean, he's been close a lot of times, in Junior's stuff. Deserved to win a lot more than he's won. Finally broke that wall down. We're proud of all of them.
Q. Explain the tire situation, the difference between the tires in the Busch Series and the Cup Series, the limits you have in the Busch Series.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I don't know exactly. I don't know everything about it. I just know that in the Busch race, you need another set on that last restart, and you don't have any left. Your crew tells you you're out of tires, that's pretty much it. If you spin out in the race, they'll give you a set or they'll give you however many tires were damaged. Martin spun out. He got two tires for that. I guess Tony went through the grass. I don't know how he got a set either, because of that or he just didn't change as much. Sometimes you can last a little bit longer than some other guys on your tires and save you an extra set, especially at these tracks. You know, it's not that big a deal. I mean, they had a head of steam no matter what. It would have been a hell of a race, but the new tires do make a little bit of difference. Taking nothing away, I mean, he had a fast car. He led all the damn race, so he was pretty fast.
Q. Dale, will you talk about the incident with Martin?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah. We'd been laying back about half a lap from everybody. Me and Michael could sit there by ourselves and run a half second faster than the leaders, just the two of us, half a lap behind. We stayed back there the whole time and we started catching the pack. We was getting a little bored. We got to racing on up through there. We saw everybody was pretty strung out. We got up there, and nobody would get off the bottom. I found out as soon as I got there, they was all beating on each other in the corner and stuff. Just nobody would pull out. Everybody was just hitting on each other, waiting for somebody to slip up the track so they could stick it in there underneath them. They got jacked up all over each other in turn two. I don't know, somebody knocked the hell out of Martin, sent him up sideways in front of me. I ain't going to lift because someone might run over me. I stayed in it, drove around. That's all I can do. If I lift, somebody jacks me up, he was wrecking anyways, I just helped him on out.
Q. Was there any confusion as to where you guys finished today, had you had to go sit on pit road?
KEVIN HARVICK: I know from our standpoint, we thought the caution had come out before the white. But, I mean, at that point it's kind of just what the video shows. I guess that's what it showed. I mean, it's probably pretty obvious, whatever it showed.
Q. Is it better to have finished the way it did today than to go to a green white checkered?
KEVIN HARVICK: I would have rather had a green white checkered, at least have a chance to win.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Same here. NASCAR set a new precedent last night. You all know that? Now it's the light. It's not the button any more. New precedence, for y'all.
Q. What did you think of the job Reed did today?
KEVIN HARVICK: I thought it was great. I followed him most of the day. I mean, I don't know if you guys have watched him drive last year at all, but he's going to win a lot of races. He drove around Atlanta sideways with the right rear tire smoking for most of the day, running second or third. He's going to do really good.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think the same thing. I drove a car once that his crew chief that he has now set up. I don't know if you can drive it any other way. Reed's either had to get used to it. I don't think he prefers to drive that way, but he was sideways today, too. I think he's got a lot of good car control, he's got a lot of talent. He doesn't do anything stupid, that's one of the things that even guys that are real good that come in here early, they run over things, run over people, run into stuff. He did a good job today.
Q. Dale, talk about Tony's incident where he ran off the track and back on. You were right behind him and saw that.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah. Well, I mean, he took a page from an IROC race I saw here one time. It was pretty awesome. I mean, normally when you lift for a wreck the first thing that comes into your mind is who is going to hit me, who is going to send me into the wall, who is not lifting for this. I was so amazed of what I was seeing out in front of my windshield, I didn't even think what was behind me. I just slowed way down. I don't know how fast I was going. I had all them guys behind me on the binders to keep from hitting me. I don't know how he drove the car back up on the track without spinning out. The boil joint's got to be bent in the right front. Steering wheel couldn't have been straight. He still won the race. He's just a talent. I mean, that guy, I don't know if you can put him in a compromising situation and him not work his way out of it.
Q. Kevin, towards the end there, were you trying to get Reed to go with you?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah. I mean, we were -- you know, before the caution came out, we were just going to stay on the bottom and wait till the end. But when we had the restart, it kind of jumbled everything up. At that point you know the pack is coming behind you. You're waiting till you think you can pull out and get in front of somebody's head of steam. Nemechek was coming. That's what we did. It shoved us up there. You know, just kind of got to play your cards. You know the 8 and 81 aren't going to move, which you wouldn't expect them to move. If you were in their situation, you'd do the same thing. So we just kind of pulled out and hoped for the best.
Q. (No microphone.)
KEVIN HARVICK: It will have Tony Stewart, Tony Raines and Ron Hornaday drive it at Mexico. It will have Mr. Clean Auto Dry on it for six races, and then it will have Old Spice for two races, Yardman for nine, and Outdoor Channel for 16.
Q. Who has the car in Fontana?
KEVIN HARVICK: Stewart.
Q. Is that the kind of race we'll see tomorrow?
KEVIN HARVICK: That's the kind of race you should see tomorrow. But some of them don't like the package that's on the Busch car. Probably won't be as exciting.
Q. What we saw out of Tony today, is that the reason that Dale and Tony seem to find each other on restrictor plate tracks?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I think, you know, you got to give Kevin and the team that he built a lot of credit for giving him a car that can run that good. You know, Tony -- like I said, you give Tony good equipment, he can do wonders with it. You know, I was just trying to get to the front. We just happened to go there together. It wasn't work-together day. That comes tomorrow, I guess, if we get a chance. But today we was, you know, competing against each other because, you know, I mean, Kevin and him were going to work together. As you see, those guys kind of surface there the last couple laps of the race, you can tell who is going to work with who.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us.
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