NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: LifeLock 400
Topics: LifeLock 400
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Tony Eury, Jr.
June 15, 2008
THE MODERATOR: This is your 18th victory in 306 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts, your first win since Richmond 2006. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your run today.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Well, we started to race out -- we started out the race pretty good. Had about a Top-5 car, and we were real loose on the first 20 laps of the run and we were probably one of the best cars on the track the last 20 laps of the run.
We just lost so much track position distance mainly, not spots so much, from the leader in the first 20 laps of every run with the car being so loose. But I felt like we had a Top-5, definitely a Top-10 car. We came in that last stop, we were going to be about six laps short, and I saved six laps of gas.
So just real lucky. I've got to hand it to Tony Junior for being a risk taker, not so much -- audacity wouldn't be a good word, but it's close to that. He's done a good job this year of getting us good finishers, better finishers than we probably should have. Normally would not take the risk to trade the Top-5 for a possible win because normally half the time it doesn't work out, but we did the right thing today.
So, it was a real good car. Happy Father's Day to everybody. My guys had really, really good stops and the car was great, the motor was great, the body was good, the chassis was good, set up was really close, and we didn't mess with it too much all day, just really loose, too loose to start with on the first few laps of the tire run. And that's pretty much it.
THE MODERATOR: Also joined by Tony Eury, Jr. and Mr. Rick Hendrick. Tony tell us about your day from the pit box.
TONY EURY, JR.: Today was pretty good. We had a Top-5 car like he said most of the day and I just kept making little bitty changes. Because you can go over an edge with this car really easy, and it was basically, you can start out really loose but at the end and be really tight.
I looked at it today as we had a Top-5 car and that was as good as we were going to get. Come down to the last caution, we were six laps short, and the caution come out six laps later after we stopped. So I actually called up Stevie and I asked him: "Are you going for it?"
And he's like: "No, I ain't going for it." I'm like, okay.
Those cautions helped out and reduced it to two laps short. I'm like, "Look, Dude, I'm not going any further forward because the. Car did not really respond good with the two tires, so just chill out and save some fuel. You have a pretty good caution behind you." And I knew some guys, the next caution, the guys stopped, so they could make it.
So we are sitting here at the tail end of the guys that could make it and I'm telling him, just save gas because worst-case scenario, we finish 25th, so who cares, go for it. And if not, you're going to wind up 25th or win, if things just roll right. That was kind of the scenario we was going on. And he was sitting there running around and Jamie started coming up on him and I knew Jamie could probably make it.
And I told him: Look, we've got to race that guy and when the caution came out, I was pretty sick, I was like, okay, we're done, but I could make 200; 2 02, we're in trouble. I told him as soon as the caution comes out, shut it off. And coasting around like he did is probably what got us the win. He's done it the last couple weeks, did a good job of saving fuel and we knew what he had. So I'm going to be honest with you, my nerves is pretty tore up right now because -- (Laughter).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: You made me feel good. I ain't never seen you as tore up as you are, but I was not that tore up. I was -- he told me with 20 to go, he told me that scenario. He said: "There's guys behind us that are going to make it and you're going to get beat by them if you pit. And if we go for it, and if we run out, we're going to finish 25th. If we pit we're going to finish 25th, so go for it."
So I started saving gas and I was like, all right, cool, man, no problem, no pressure, just save fuel, and if we don't win, with he don't win, no big deal. Because we run good all day and I was satisfied with the showing that I had put up all day. You know, looking at finishes just on a sheet of paper, you never really see the truth about how good a team is and I feel really happy how we run today.
So I was pretty much content and I didn't have really any nerves. I wasn't nervous at all. I'm always nervous in those situations but I real will wasn't for should reason. Which I can check Jamie came and I told Tony Junior, I said: "Am I supposed to race Jamie, or am I supposed to let him go and save fuel?" I was only running quarter throttle on a straightaway.
He was like, "Ooohhh, I don't know. 10-4." (Laughter) He didn't have an answer. He's like: "I don't know what to tell you, man."
I said, "Well, who's leading?" They took the frigging scoreboard down, and you can't see who is leading; I can't read that thing in the middle. I'm like, well, hell, I don't know who is leading.
He's like, "You're leading."
I'm like, oh, hell, I should probably try to win because there was five to go or tour to go and I passed Jamie back, and I started saving, which Jamie passed me back and I'm like, dang, are we saving or racing? So it was really comical actually. It looked like we were racing like hell, but we were just pedaling by each other about half to quarter throttle. Probably looked like we was racing as hard as hell, and I'm actually like 3/8ths on this straightaway, and he's like, well, I'm mash it 3/8ths and go by you; so I'll mash it a quarter. It was funny. When the caution come out, I was dejected, of course, but it is what it is. You know, we got to try and we've been beat so many times like this, it feels really good to do it.
Q. Can you just describe at what point the car actually did run out, was it on the back stretch when you caught the white flag, and did you have to dive down in turn three to pick up fuel and did you find some fuel there to get you back across?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: No. It ran -- I turned it off when the caution come out but I cranked it up around three and four and it ran fine all the way to the flag it. Ran out just as I turned and was coming back this way on pit road coming toward my guys, it was out of gas.
You know, it come off the floor to the white stumbling, but that could have been a pocket error in the line from riding around under the pace before that, before the restart.
Q. With laps left --
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I think I made it. The centrifugal force would have given me a better opportunity to make it pushing the gas. Running hard in the corner, I would have sent more gas to the right side of the fuel cell, caution comes out you're coasting around, the fuel is not being pushed into the right side of the fuel cell and it run as way from the pick up, even on the apron so it runs away from the pick up and you're still in some banking there. Riding around on a caution, if I had to ride around under caution, it would have run out when it ran out but it had enough to win the race and win under green, I believe. We had saved just enough.
Q. Passing the pace car under the yellow, everybody jumped on Biffle pretty hard last year when they had that thing at Kansas. What's the rule as you guys know it, and were you basically going to do it until NASCAR told you to stop?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Pretty much. I didn't know how much they were going to worry about it.
Everybody, all of the cars out there, are gassing it, shutting them off, coasting about a half straightaway, cankering back up, gas it, coast, shut it off, and everybody's doing it. Everybody, I've been involved in seeing -- I myself have done it and I've been around other drivers that have done that for about a year. Maybe they have been doing it longer but I just started doing it here recently whenever I need to save gas if I'm under caution, I turn the motor off.
But you know, there's no rule specifically against that, but I was getting a little greedy and making my car coast. I wanted to coast farther, so I would gas it harder and coast pass the pace car and just let him come on and catch back up and that way I could keep my motor on longer. But NASCAR said if I did it again he was going to park me -- or what did they say exactly?
TONY EURY, JR.: They just said: "Tell him not to be passing the pace car, don't do it no more."
And I'm like: "Look, don't pass the pace car no more."
And they were like: "Okay, you're good, don't do it again." I was like, all right.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Yeah, I can understand how it might look if, especially if you're not a Dale Junior fan. (Laughter) Yeah, I guess you might not be too, I know exactly what they are going to say Monday. But hell with it.
I mean, there's going to be so many different -- my fans are happy and I'm happy for them. The other half are going to tear this apart on how we won this race but I got the trophy and I got the points and I got to see my team and my owner and my family tonight happy as they have been in a long time.
So the win is pretty special to me. I won here in the Busch Series, but we ain't never really won here in the Cup. This is a great racetrack, being in Detroit, being close to Detroit, General Motors, haven't won here in a long time, Rick told me, so it's a pretty big day for us.
Q. At the beginning of your run, saying how important it was going to be for NASCAR for you to win again and in lieu of everything that happened last week with the dark cloud, how big is this victory for NASCAR?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Oh, I don't know. There's other people in this room that know that answer and probably could do a better job -- I think everybody could probably do a better job than I could with that one.
I think it's good for the sport. But the sport has done well this year with ratings. Attendance is back and forth, up and down. But maybe that's more due to the heat and the gas prices and stuff like that. I think the racing is the same; the way it plays out and the drama and the excitement of coming to a race and the experience that you have all weekend or just on Sunday, whichever you choose, is still as fun as it's always been.
But I'm happy for my team, I'm happy for our corner, and it's really big. I know what it means for our little corner over here, but if it helps NASCAR and makes NASCAR happy and it does something for NASCAR, then great, I'm happy to be a part of that. Better than I won the race and nobody be happy about it.
If it helps Brian, and he's excited about that, then great. But we worked so hard to get the win regardless. My team worked really, really hard to get good preparation, starting the season and be consistent all year, and I missed the joy and I missed winning and hopefully we'll have some more before the season is out. We got ten bonus points going into the Chase, so we never had that, even when we made the Chase.
Q. Another clarification, I think Brian Vickers talked about the car getting pushed, but I think you were on the radio saying nobody ever pushed you, right?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: No. I got pushed by my team at my pit stall into victory lane.
Q. But you got no push?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: No.
Q. And what was it like to come this with your team pushing you and being out of gas?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: It might have cranked. I thought it was a better story to be out of gas. (Laughter) Think about it, man, when is the last time you seen a race team pushing a car into victory lane? In the old days they used to ride them in, but the insurance companies don't allow you to ride them in month more. I guess you could, but we'd be in trouble. It's good. It makes for great TV. We'll have some great pictures to look at.
Q. How much does it wear on your confidence, it's not like you've been struggling and it seems like you've been third in points forever, but the last couple years, have there been quiet moments where you started to think you would never win again?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: You know, not really. I never wondered, man, will I never win again. You know, I'm going to be around here -- if I can have my way, I'll be around here for quite a while but I'll have good opportunities driving good race cars for hopefully a good time and more opportunities to win.
I just -- you know, the winless streak didn't frustrate me as much as most people would think and I was so happy to be where I am and so satisfied with how we've ran to this point, that I wasn't really -- I wasn't that frustrated about not winning. I felt really fortunate to have what I had.
So as much as I wanted to win, you know, I couldn't get away from just feeling really fortunate and feeling really lucky and man, I've got a great team, look at my cars, they are so awesome, and look how well they are built and look at my guys, they are so dedicated and everybody believes. I just feel so lucky.
Then Brad won at Nashville and I saw Tony senior and the whole team and then we had our little deal back at the shop on Monday and then we went and ate lunch together on Wednesday, and it reminded me of the joy that I had forgotten.
I knew winning is going to make me happy, but I forgot really the look on everybody's face and the look I would see once we won on Tony Junior's face, Rick's face, my sister, my PR people, all my team. And I started to remember, you know, watching Brad win, I'm like, man, I've got to get back to victory lane, I miss it so bad.
So I missed that, and that was the motivation for me to get back to victory lane. But the winless streak wasn't bothering me. I was stilling running good. I was still making a case for my job and having my job, you know what I mean. I still had a good effort and felt like I was doing what I was told. Just a matter of circumstance before we really, you know, put one in victory lane.
Q. Just how tough was it in those last laps, and you guys talked about, you know, he said with 20 laps to go, he asked, do we race, do we not and he got really basically no answer. I'm assuming that's happened before, or has that been a case where he's asked in that type of situation and you've not been able to give him an answer because you didn't know or weren't ready to give it to him at that point?
TONY EURY, JR.: Like Charlotte, we had our incident, and there at the end of the race, we were like, okay, our goals have shift, instead of trying to win the race, we're going to try to get a Top-5 so I pretty much told him when he left pit road, I told him don't do nothing to save fuel from now to then. We have changed our goals, we'll get a Top-5 even if it goes green. He asked me at the end he and Jeff are riding around and he's like, okay, can I go, can I go and I'm like, no, just chill.
He asked me so many times about ten laps to go, just go, you know, just go. And it's like the same thing here. We're in a situation where you're two laps short and it's hard for me -- I can look on that Hot Pass and see the throttle halfway, but I can't tell you how much gas he's saving, and nobody on pit road does. You can tell a driver to save gas, but it's very hard to understand.
Like Michael Waltrip two years ago, I told him when he left pit road: All right, we're going to save gas, save four -- Jeremy Mayfield won the race, he ran out right where he's supposed to, and he's telling me to save four, so the driver knows what he's saving, you know, and that was in the middle of a situation where, okay, do you Top-5 it or do you go for the win and then don't run out? That was basically where I was at, it's like a Catch 22 question. Okay; are we rolling dice or say, okay, I'm going to take my Top-5 and get my points and I'll see you in Sonoma.
I think both of us wanted to win pretty bad, and we just said, you know, go for it. And when the caution come out, it was like, misdemeanor, this ain't going to be good. And it was just like, okay, go now. It don't matter. Go run out, it's a good, good chance to run out now, for sure.
So just let it eat and that's what he was doing there at the end. He pulled away, and you don't want anybody to have a miss pore tune but I was like, please, somebody hit something. (Laughter).
Q. When is the last time that you rolled the dice to go for a win?
TONY EURY, JR: I think it was with Michael. That was the last time that I've actually just said, you know what, I'm going to pay for your mileage gain and just go for it, and that would be in '05, we come up two laps short and Mayfield won the race. I don't gamble much, that's for sure. I don't even go to Vegas and give them $20, because the lights is on there for a reason.
Q. Tony and Dale, you two, your relationship together, you've often said you're cousins but you're more like brothers. How satisfying is this win today and the way you were able to win it to silence some of your critics and skeptics and to do it with a fast car and strategy and smart driving on Dale's part?
TONY EURY, JR.: I mean, I'm like Dale Junior. The winless streak has not really bothered me because I've seen him lead laps, I've seen what he's capable of doing and we've run up front, and we've had fast, fast race cars and get caught up in accidents and stuff like that.
So I feel kind of the same way he does. It's like, you love winning and you love seeing that guy's face beside of you just happy that you won, but I'm just as content because I feel the same way he does. I mean, and that's probably -- it's probably bad that we don't -- it ain't -- we got a fire in us but it ain't an inferno. If I can get a hold of my wife and be around people that I really enjoy being around, and I can run Top-5 every week, I would be happy with that, you know.
But winning is a bonus, and I just feel very fortunate and lucky. I mean, I've been doing this for 14 years. I've seen a lot of stuff come and I've seen a lot of stuff go, and you realize right quick that life is short, and you've got to enjoy it while you're here. I can remember times that this was all I breathe, and when you lose certain things in your life, you learn to understand that racing ain't everything.
I guess that's probably the biggest thing that's went over me in the past, and if I can see Dale Junior happy and I can run Top-5 and I can see my pit crew happy and everybody is enjoying their jobs and we can come here week-in and week-out, I'm perfectly happy with that. And sometimes that's why I don't go for it, or I don't put it on the line is because, you know, why take a fifth place car and run 25th? Why do something and bring the whole team down? I would rather see them up on the pedestal and the moods be good.
That's kind of been the difference over here. Me and him, we've got to get a bigger fire because Rick expects us to win every week. Last couple of years, hey, we made the Chase, that's good, and if we make it, okay, and we've had some bad luck, but we've had some good luck. I'm like him, I'm just very fortunate and thankful for everything that I've got.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Yeah, I think that you know, the hardest part I think when we first started this season, we were really happy and satisfied, lucky, worried, about our performance. We rattled off a lot of great finishes and good runs and we've been solid every week and it's been real easy to get impatient, because you see -- you can see up ahead what great potential we have, me and my cousin, with the team of guys we've got, you see what great potential we could have over the next couple years. And you just grow a little impatient because you want it now.
I want the car to be right, now. And we are still learning this car. We are still trying to understand what this car likes and needs, what I like about it and don't like about it. And Tony Junior is really smart in the fact that he -- he's real good at finding trends in my setups and themes and things that are always constant. We work around everything and we always end up, like roof springs, he doesn't have to tell me; he puts them in, and he knows, the car's faster. And that's why I like having him as a crew cheap chief, he makes me fast and I get that constantly and I get good runs.
It's just been -- it's a work-in-progress with the new team and all, but the hardest part is just not getting impatient, just wanting to get on down the street. And this win is going to help us a lot. Hopefully it opens the doors for more opportunities to win races. That's all fate, we just put ourselves in the Top-5 every week and like I said circumstances will predict our wins and Top-5s and where we finish. Me and him are both real lucky. Man, this is storybook. So I'm fortunate to have the job I've got and be in the position that I am in this sport and I'm fortunate to have my cousin on my side with me every step of the way.
So it's a hell of a lot funner than it's supposed to be and it should be, when it comes to being deserving.
RICK HENDRICK: It was a special win. You know, winning in Michigan is special, but they have been so close this year and we got to Daytona and won the clash and then the 150, I thought, man, and I said it to you in victory lane the first time, hey, this takes all the monkey off our back. We don't have to prove anything. We won a race. Maybe they didn't care; I did. I wanted to get the points win out of the way, or a win, period.
But I've been real proud of the way this team's come together and the way they work with the other teams and the growth in the organization, period. You know, it's been -- they have been so close and the cars run so good; I was just glad to see -- I saw the disappointment in your face in Richmond and saw the joy in your face here today, and that was -- so it's good. It's good for Junior, and he's got an awful lot of fans and they ask me the same thing every time I see them, when is junior going to win the race. Felt like that was kind of the gun to my head.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: There will be a new question and it will be just as persistent. Don't know what it is yet.
Q. Now that the win is out of the way, moving forward you can really focus on that championship; just how important are these races over the summer months going all the way up to Richmond and the potential to really challenge this year in the Chase?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I think I have real potential and the races specifically in the Chase are good tracks for me.
The summer stretch is sort of, you know, always been a difficult stretch for me. Tracks like Pocono, hit or miss, the road course races, getting them in and out of the way.
Yeah, just trying to get out of the road cars with a Top-10, you're lucky as hell. But I don't know, you know, I just -- the summer stretch, we've never really been smoking hot in the last eight years. We'll see, with this equipment and this opportunity that Rick's given us with these motors and these cars, we may turn that around and really sure is surprise ourselves throughout the summer.
I guess I'm in a maintain mode. I'll be real happy if I can just be as consistent as I've been the first part of the season. We go out and we race hard. I've run hard every lap. I'm qualifying every lap. But I'm smart, I don't back my car into the fence and I don't run into the side of people and spin myself out and I try not to be around people who do that.
So you know, wins, I'm working hard to get wins, but I just think we've had the best car sometimes and things have happened, and the rest of the times, we've had a Top-5 car and that's what we've got.
But we'll see. This will be interesting. I've really anticipated every weekend going to the racetrack with Hendrick Motorsports equipment, and I've been positive and eager, you know to, it get on the racetrack and see just how we measure to everyone every weekend, because I go to the racetrack, with what I feel like is the best stuff, motors and cars, and personnel. So there's, you know, you can put pressure on yourself, and say there's no excuse, but I look at it as an opportunity.
Q. It's been about six months, is he off his probation at Hendricks motorsports yet?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Was I on probation?
Q. Just like when you get hired, after six months you get an evaluation --
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I hope everybody's job don't start like that. That must have been just you. (Laughter).
RICK HENDRICK: I can't remember what race it was he told me, I just hope I get to keep my job." And I thought he was just playing with me and then I looked at him and said, "Are you serious"?
And he said, "Yeah, I'm serious."
I said, "Yeah, I think you're in good shape."
No, it's been -- I kind of thought, and I was concerned early on, with the new car and all, that it would take a while to get he and Tony kind of clicking in the groove, and actually he's carried the banner for us. They have done an outstanding job, and Tony Eury Junior fits right in and Jeff and Jimmie and Kasey work well together. We go test and swap cars around. We were behind when the year started because we took about six new of the old-style cars to Homestead just trying to win the championship and everybody else was ahead of us and nobody waited for us.
So we've had to work awful hard here in the last few months to get back to where we were going. But as far as, I never dreamed that Junior and Tony Eury, Jr. would get as well into the company as they have, and we've had a lot of fun.
The Busch thing we've had a lot fun with, seeing that thing come around and do well. But just the effort and the chemistry is the best it's ever been, and the guys are working hard together. We are not where we want to be, but I see the momentum coming and Jimmie ran awful good today, ran good in Charlotte and Junior had the car to beat in Charlotte.
So you know, we've got a lot of work to do, but you know, we want to win the championship. And I think these guys -- I think you look at their record so far, they can win the championship. I think our company has a history of coming on at the end. I mean, we feel like that we are always working hard and we're deep in depth of people. Usually when the summer comes around and we get into those last ten, even looking at Kasey last year and where he ended upcoming through the points. We just seem to be good second half.
So, I'm looking forward to the momentum building and I'm just real proud of these guys. I think they have got a real shot to win the championship, and we're going to do everything we can to give them the tools to do it.
Q. I hate to be a jerk and ask the maudlin question, but can you talk a little bit about what it means for you to win on father's day?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Oh, man -- no, you're not a jerk.
It's special. You know, my daddy, he meant a lot to me. There's a lot of people that I look up to that just happen to be great fathers themselves, role models for their sons. It means a lot to me to do well on Father's Day. It's a special day for my family, special for my sister. She's very, very happy at home and in tears on the telephone so it means a lot to her. I'm glad she's as happy as she could possibly be today under circumstances. And it makes me feel good. I know I can't tell my father happy Father's Day but I get the opportunity to wish it upon all of the other far as out there, and I genuinely mean that when I say it, because that's what today is all about. It's for all of the fathers out there.
And aside from that, it's good to be in General Motors vicinity, and you know, those two things, Father's Day and you're close to Detroit, it means a lot to come here and get a win. I had not won here since the Busch Series, and it's tough to win races here. But we got won. I'm real, real happy and I'm very proud to have the trophy.
Q. (No mic.)
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I raced my daddy -- if I raced him in Iroq, I raced him at Daytona in the Iroq race. I raced him here but then we must have ran together at Iroq in Daytona in February that same year.
But you know, that's one race -- since you bring that up, that's one race, that doesn't get much play, but damn it, have y'all ever watched it? I swear, I had him. And it burns my ass to this day that Rusty Wallace pushed him by me, because I wanted to beat my daddy so bad. And I had him, and he knew it.
I'm telling you, it bothers the hell out of me because I sat behind him and he waved and waved telling me to stay there and I'm like, man I've got to run my own race here, there's only 12 of us out here, can't you fend for yourself. And I sat there like a good son until the last lap and put a good move on him and he never gave me any credit for that because knew I had his ass.
To me, I was more tired after that race than I had ever been in my life. I was physically -- I had to go to the infield care center get some IV after a 50-lap race if Iroq because of how hard I had worked. I had worked like ten men on that last lap. And I'm surprised that didn't get more play when people talk about me and him and our friend shipped, our relationship as father and son, because to me, that day ranks right up there with the Winston win.
And it was here, you know, and I thought it was a little bit of a phenomena to be honest with you, or some sort of a unique happenstance that that was the two guys coming down to the finish line beating and banging on each other and that doesn't really get a lot of play. But I look back, I got that, it's in my bookmarks, on YouTube so I can watch it just about any time I want.
Q. Just continuing on that previous question about winning on Father's Day, can you put this victory in some type of perspective with all of the other great ones, considering this has been two years since you've won and this comes on Father's Day, with your all-time great wins, how would you rank it?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: I would rank it in the Top-5. You know, there's a lot of great little things that plug into this win, and that's being with Rick; winning with him is a whole lot of fun and a great, great feeling. The people that he put around me that he trusted to help me, look after me, get me started, winning with them. Winning with my new team and Joanie, Junior what it is going to mean, like I said to my sister and my family and my mom, Mike Davis was not here this weekend; JR came to give Mike a weekend off. Amy, she's been great.
We all lean on each other all weekend long to get through the weekend and do the best we can and everybody has done such a great job. There's just a lot of neat things. We were joking that I'll have a little more real estate in Hendrick, going to throw some winners banners up. Just a lot of great little nitpick things. We get to do a lot of media this week and talk about our win that we've been trying to get for so long. Our sponsors get to celebrate in their own way however that is. We get to hear from them, which will be great.
Before this season, I don't know, I guess you had seen sponsors sharing a car before, but these guys truly do share this car with each other, willingly and happily work in unison together, speaking of amp and the guard. So they have sacrificed a little bit of exposure to each other to be a part of this so I'm really happy with them.
Like I said, there's a lot of things that I can't realize yet that will tie into this win so just looking forward to the next couple hours and days and seeing them reveal themselves to me.
Q. We've sat here in this media center and heard Jack Roush talk about how important it is for the manufacturer, and Chevy has not won here since 2001; can you just talk about that and what it means to you?
RICK HENDRICK: The manufacturers do put a lot of importance on this race and I remembered that coming up here today in 2001, my dad was really sick in Charlotte and I was with him when Jeff won, and that was our 100th win and that was here. We get an awful lot of calls prior to and after this Michigan race from Chevrolet and all of the General Motors people.
So it's a lot of pressure, and we always try to run good here and it's been a dry spell this year for Chevrolet. I know they were excited, they were here this morning and we were working with them trying to get us a little help in the Busch area or the nationwide area with some motor.
So anyway, it's real special, all employees, a lot of the folks in the stands are Ford employees and GM employees. Everybody wants bragging rights and they have been a big sponsor for a long time so really good to do it here.
Q. Stiffy has taken a lot of criticism and a lot of people just don't understand the relationship the two of you share. For the people out there, the doubters, everybody who has pointed to him and said it was his fault, and to win a race like this, where you have to have the ultimate trust in the person who is calling the shots for you, can you put this all into perspective?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR: Well, I tell you one thing. It goes -- it's a little underestimated, but that trust is there every time I climb in the car. I wouldn't choose this job. I would go do something else if I didn't believe in my crew chief and didn't have faith in what kind of race car he built. And if I didn't have that option and opportunity, I don't feel like that this would be very enjoyable.
I'm his worst critic; he's my worst critic. We want the best for each other. We want to see each other have an amazing time at this, and see each other just experience so much success. But you know if we are feeling like -- and working together, if we feel like we want the most for each other and that's not happening or if I feel like -- this works both ways, like he feels the same way I do.
But if I feel like he's not going down the right path on any given Saturday or Friday, we talk about it, and we talk about it in our own way. There's times where we get together in the room, close the door and we just go at it, and it's great, because I don't want to go back and sit in the bus or stand around in the garage biting my lip and get angry. We've got to go at it, and it's great. Because by the time it's over, we get the result we want, and especially with this opportunity and this equipment. And we go, man, thanks for hanging in there. We did the right thing; this worked out.
There's a lot of things that you can do and there's a lot of things that you do as a driver as you get better and older in the sport and you become more professional in the way you talk and how you handle things and there's things you quit saying and there's times you stick your foot in your mouth less often, and you dress differently, better, whatever. But there's one thing that I'll never change and that's how me and Tony junior work together and people have just got to get used to it, and that's just how we are. That is that and we ain't going nowhere. When we win, obviously the big problems are little problems and the little problems are gone.
But as long as we work together, which I hope is forever, we're going to go at it because that's just how we want the best for each other. We want the best out of each other. You can write that story -- if that's what you want to write for the rest of your career, you can right it, because it will always be there. We just go at it and I think it's important.
If I show up on a race weekend, and Tony Junior -- and if I have to go out there and give 80 percent, and Tony junior doesn't chew my ass, I'm going to be disappointed. I'm going to be worried. He pushes me, and I need it, and I push him to make sure he's doing what he's supposed to do. I think it's old school, our ways of doing it, hell, we MF each other on the radio stuff, but I think it's old school. It's been there for years.
You should have heard Suitcase Jake and my daddy when he worked on the Busch team in the mid 80s way after Jake was -- I don't remember what Jake was like when he was with Daddy on the Cup side in 79, the 80s, but in the mid 80s they went to work together on the Busch car, and that lasted a week. So we ain't nowhere near as bad as they were.
You know, as unhealthy as it sounds, as unhealthy -- it took our team -- our team would look around like what the hell is going on. It takes people a while, but as unhealthy as it sounds, and it's healthy. It's a healthy part of how we get our end result. He's one of the few people in this world where I can lay it down; and I can even be wrong, you know what I mean, but I can tell him like it is and even if I'm wrong, terribly wrong, he doesn't change exactly how he feels about me. I'm fortunate. I know there's other great crew chiefs out there, but in my mind, he will be considered at the end of this whole deal in my mind, he'll be considered one of the greatest, and I don't want to get beat by him.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys, very much.
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