NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: AAA Texas 500
Topics: AAA Texas 500
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
November 3, 2013
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by tonight's second place finisher of the AAA Texas 500, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Gold 7‑Eleven Chevrolet. This is his fourth Top 5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Another strong run for you. Talk about your evening?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: We started off, we came here to test, and all the Hendrick cars came here to test, and it paid off. We started out Saturday morning in practice really struggling, and we worked on the car and improved it for the second practice and made a lot of changes overnight to go in that direction. When the race started, we had a Top 10 car, and I think Steve improved it quite a bit. The track was kind of coming to us as well.
The track conditions that we tested in were similar to how the race ended, so I think that was in our favor inadvertently. But just real pleased with being able to run well.
We want to put forward a good account of ourselves in the Chase because you're in there for a reason and you don't want to be an also ran. So we feel like we're doing a lot of good work and getting really close to probably breaking through and getting a win. We've only got two more opportunities at it, but real pleased with just the speed of the car.
I think our team has continued to get better every season, and it's really showing, especially right now in the results that we've got.
Q. With the exception of the engine failure, you've had a remarkable run in the Chase. You've had Top 10 finishes in seven of eight races. You've led laps in 6 of 8 races. Ran into Stiffy today, and he said can you imagine where you would be right now if you had not had that engine failure? You'd probably be right in the mix. Do you think about that or do you just try to go and do what you do best?
DALE EARNHARDT JR: Yeah, I mean, the Chicago deal is regrettable. We'd love to go back and do that over again, but as soon as that happened, we really changed our approach and it was more about trying to win a race, winning a race would really lift all the teams spirits. You work all season long not to go winless and not to getting to Victory Lane. So I know how much the guys want the win on the team. So that's what we're working for now.
We gambled a little bit in the late stages of this race short pitting and getting a lot of track position, and we had a fast enough car to keep it, but the 48 was in another class and nobody had anything for him. He was just super good all through practice and in the race.
But, yeah, I think about that a little bit. But there isn't much you can do about it. I've got two races to go and we'd love to get a win in one of them and continue to have a good run here the chase.
Q. I think I heard you or Steve on the radio afterwards talking about how many second place finishes you've had, and I think it was five. There wasn't a lot of frustration. Is that how you're viewing it? It's not a matter of like, wow, we've missed opportunities? It's a matter of we're so close?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: I think it's a matter of being close. You know, it's not‑‑ we're not running second by making mistakes. We're not giving away wins. So I feel like we're just really getting close to cracking through and just trying to maintain the momentum with two races to go is going to be tough. But that's what we're focusing on.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by tonight's third place finisher of the Texas AAA 500 Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 AAA Ford, second consecutive top 5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway and third overall in your career. Another strong run after a strong performance in our spring race. Talk about just backing that up again?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it was very uneventful Texas race, which is what we wanted after the first one. So the guys in the AAA Fusion did a great job overnight kind of looking at what Brad's car had and what we went through in practice because there are times in practice I thought we were one of the fastest cars here, and there were times in practice I thought we were a 10th to 15th place car. So we kind of went through our notes and made sure we understood all the changes and put together a fast race car today.
From the start of the race we started moving our way forward. I felt like I was a second or third place car all night. Dale pitted‑‑ how many laps earlier did you pit than me?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: We came in with 38 to go.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I don't know what number I came in, but it was a couple laps before me.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Couple laps, yeah.
JOEY LOGANO: Which got Dale in front of me. I tried my heart out trying to pass him. We short fielded the car, got too tight, and couldn't form a good enough run to get to his outside or pass him up and get underneath him. But, overall, we can't be disappointed with a third place finish. Just the 48 car was ridiculously fast.
Q. Dale, as you look at the way Jimmie is running, can you compare him to the way he's run in his previous championship years? Is this the best you've ever seen him run?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: No, I think that he was equally as good in the other championship runs. They were all impressive for one reason or another. They're just a great team. Chad's done a good job of putting the right people in the right place. You've got to give Chad a lot of credit for maintaining the consistency of the group and keeping the performance of the car and the equipment there for Jimmie throughout all that process.
So to be able to sustain that is kind of challenging in this environment. Guys move around and get hired over here, hired over there, and Chad's done a good job of keeping the performance up on the equipment and the team.
Q. Tonight the wind kicked up quite a bit those last ten, 15 laps. Does that have any impact on you?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: I didn't even know it. We talk about that, and we can see it during practice and we pay attention to it for qualifying and what have you, but as the race is going on, sometimes your crew chief will give you that information, but he didn't tell me tonight.
Q. You know the flags they were out straight the last nine laps?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Yeah, I was just looking straight ahead and trying to hit my marks.
Q. How about you, Joey?
JOEY LOGANO: If you start looking at flags, you're going to hit a lot of stuff. I didn't think this whole weekend was as windy as what it typically is here. Sometimes you get this big gust, and it's the oh‑crap moments, because they kind of come out of nowhere. But I didn't see this one being anymore normal. It was a pretty constant wind. At least you kind of know what you're dealing with.
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