NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sprint Showdown
Topics: Sprint Showdown
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
May 21, 2011
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: David, thank you for your time. Good luck tonight.
We'll open it up for questions for Dale Jr. in the media center.
Q. Now that you have it in the bag, was there ever any doubt that you weren't going to win the fan vote in your mind?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Sure. Generally anytime there's a contest, they don't announce the winner, there's no guarantees.
I see it a whole lot different from this side of the fence than a lot of people do. I didn't take it for granted. I knew my fans were working really hard. They've done a great job over the last several years of locking up the most popular driver award. All the credit goes to them. They do all the work, support us so much, really believe in what we're trying to accomplish.
It makes going out there and working harder and harder to try to get where you want to be, be more successful, be a better competitor when you got that many people behind you.
Q. Do you think your car is good enough to challenge in this next race?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: That last run was pretty fast. Last lap was a 55. It was about a second quicker than the people behind me, half a second faster than the two guys in front of me, about 3/10ths better than the leader.
I think we made it better. The speed's there. We were practicing yesterday, and my biggest problem right now, and I think I'll still have it going into this race, is we don't have any speed the first four laps. For some reason, I don't like the way the car feels on sticker tires. So we run about the same lap time. The car doesn't fall off too bad. It doesn't in practice.
We just cycled it so many times there. We had that caution in that first 20 lapper, that's a cycle. We didn't pit for tires. We were behind about three cars in front of us in the dirty air once we got restarted. It kills the front tires. As we saw yesterday, every time you go back out, you make big changes to free the car up, just gets getting tighter, and tighter every time you'd come in the garage and go back out.
Hard to tell if you're helping your car. That last run, the lap times were really, really good. I think the track is coming in that direction as far as how my car handles, gripping up front a little bit. We'll go out there and run hard. Practically we'll get out there and mix it up a little bit.
There's going to be some really fast cars. We pretty much know from this last race that we didn't have the speed to go out there and win that race. So that's definitely stating the obvious: I don't know if we have enough for some of those guys in the field for this race. We're going to go out there and try. We did improve the car. We'll make some more changes. We have time in this race.
As much as I think that first segment is really kind of unnecessary, it's going to give an opportunity for a team like us to work on the car and get it better.
Q. Rick said before the race you are close on a contract extension.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Did he say something?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Whatever he said is probably true (laughter).
We've been talking on the phone a little bit, just kind of saying what we think. I'm excited to be where I am. From my heart, it's an amazing organization. There's some great, great people there. I've learned a lot being around there. It's made me a better person.
We still got a lot of things we would like to accomplish on the racetrack. If I get the opportunity to stick around, I'm definitely excited about that. We've just been talking about it. Hopefully I don't think we'll have any trouble working things out.
THE MODERATOR: Dale Jr., thank you very much. Congratulations on the 2011 Sprint Fan Vote. Good luck tonight.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Thank you.
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