NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sprint Showdown
Topics: Sprint Showdown
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
May 19, 2012
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
KERRY THARP: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., winner of the Sprint Showdown. He advances into the Sprint All‑Star Race.
Dale, just yesterday you said that's the way you wanted to get in the All‑Star Race. Talk about it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, we had a really good car in practice, felt like if we could get our nose out front, we'd be hard to beat.
I just worked really hard on the restart to get ahead of Martin, try to get clean air, make it tougher for the rest of those guys behind us.
I got to give most of the credit of our performance to the team. They put a great car out on the line today that was fast right out of the gate. This race, you set cars up, you take cars to racetracks every weekend. You're either good on a short run or a long run, but you just worry about how the car can do over a 60‑or‑so‑lap period.
Today you just have to go. You don't have time to work on the car, work your way throughout a tire run. You got to go right out of the gate. That really comes down to the team, Steve and the guys getting together, really putting the best package they can under the car.
All the credit really goes to them and the boys at the shop that put the car together. We didn't bring the best car last year. We really didn't put a lot of emphasis on this race last year. We were trying to get used to each other, learn to be a better team. We feel like we're there now to where we can start concentrating on events like this.
We brought a car that we felt would be competitive. It seems to be doing really good.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Dale.
Q. Junior, you said yesterday that last year Letarte said you're bringing a much better car, and last year you didn't put as much emphasis on this. Can you expand on that? Did he not tell you that until after last year's race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't inquire about the cars leading up to the race. I just assume we're taking what he believes to be the best car for that event.
He just admitted to me sometime in the past year, I can't recall whether it was a week ago or 12 months ago, that we didn't bring a good car here last year. We didn't bring our best bullet to the fight. He told me this year they were going to put a little more emphasis on this event.
I think last year, like I said, I mean, in defense of Steve and his decision, we were a young team. This was early for us in our relationship. He was concentrating really more on the 600, trying to make the Chase. We had a lot of pressure on us to do well. We were still sort of coming out of the box. This was pretty early in the season last year.
In defense of his decision there, I don't have a problem with it at this point. Obviously now, after winning tonight, getting into the All‑Star Race, it's easy to look back and say it's not a big deal. But it was a challenging time for us, and our priorities were quite a bit different then.
Q. Dale, you might be starting in the rear of the field, but do you have an advantage having been out on the track tonight?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I think it's a slight advantage, I suppose. You know, these are great race teams that we're going to be racing with in the All‑Star Race. They have their cars tuned to what they believe is the perfect settings to go out there and hit the track and be the fastest one out there.
I don't feel like I got a real leg up on everybody. It's going to be difficult starting in the back with the dirty air. With the short runs, we're going to have either of two things: hope we have a fast enough car to drive our way around everybody, which is going to be difficult, or make some calls on pit road, do some things strategy‑wise that get us ahead of a few guys.
You know, the guy who's in the clean air is the guy who is going to have the best advantage, just like we had in the shootout here.
I feel real fortunate to have drove my way into the All‑Star Race. My fans have worked really hard to vote. I never assume that I'm going to win the vote. The fan support to me is a gift and I never take it for granted.
We just feel real lucky to have an opportunity to race. We're going to enjoy being a part of the All‑Star Race, having earned our way in this year. I feel like our fans can appreciate that, as well.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations, Dale. Good luck in the All‑Star Race.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Thank you.
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