MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
GO BOWLING 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 12, 2017
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW DEW-S-A CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed competing this weekend at Kansas, his thoughts on next weekend’s All- Star race, his new show on DIY Network and many other topics. Full Transcript:
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DEW-S-A PAINT SCHEME THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, it’s a good-looking car. Mountain Dew has got a summer promotion with this DEW-S-A flavor they have mixed the Code Red, White Out and Voltage together. We did a little commercial shoot a couple of months ago at Hammerhead (productions) which was a lot of fun. We got a little infomercial that we shot and that will be fun for everybody to take a look at, but it’s good. I’ve tasted it out. It’s pretty awesome and only 170 calories, that is pretty good. Anyhow, yeah, the car looks great and this first practice I thought it was a lot of fun to drive and didn’t mind our lap times too much, so we will see what we’ve got in this second practice.”
IT LOOKED LIKE IT GOT A LITTLE HAIRY IN PRACTICE EARLIER THERE. HOW CLOSE WAS IT? HOW IS YOUR CAR THIS WEEKEND?
“It was real close. That would have been a back-up (car) for sure. You know, I looked up there and against the fence it looks like the (NASCAR Camping World) Trucks have been up there and there is some rubber down, so I thought it was pretty clean, but we went up there and it was a little dusty for whatever reason. That is where we are going to race. That seems like, you know, this track has greyed up quite a bit, good age on the surface and it will continue to get even more fun and wider. It’s pretty wide as it is, so I wanted to try to get up there as soon as I could and see how our car drove, so we didn’t find out anything in the race that we didn’t already know. We will get to practice a little bit more and see how that goes. Right now, we are kind of running in the middle of the track and that will change a little bit. That won’t really be what we are doing in the race. In the race, I think, we will be up at the top or at the bottom.”
ANY STRATEGY TO WIN THE ALL-STAR RACE? HAVE YOU GUYS TALKED ABOUT THAT? WORKED ON THAT?
“Nope, not really. I forgot how it all works. I think it’s stage winners get in and there are only going to be 10 guys in the last stage and they will fill it out by average finishing position and all that. We will see if we get the luck of the draw and get in there. They are going to have a soft tire, which should be interesting to see just how much better that is and whether that is really going to make a big difference versus the guys that are on a hard tire. Just should be a fun weekend. It’s pretty low-key, we’ve got some friends coming into town. Folks that we met on our honeymoon, so going to have a good weekend and hopefully, the race goes good.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THESE YOUNG GUYS COMING UP AND WHO DO YOU SEE AS THE NEXT WAVE OF GUYS THAT ARE GOING TO BECOME BIG NAMES IN THE SPORT?
“Well, (Kyle) Larson is a big name now, but he is going to be a guy that will be around for a very long time. Very talented, going to have tons of success, championships and all that good stuff. Chase (Elliott) is already a star and once he starts winning multiple races the fans awareness of him outside of the sport will grow and he will become a household name, if he is not already outside of the sport. You are going to have to have guys that can kind of reach beyond the grandstands and grab new fans. They are doing a lot of good things. They took a group of them to New York City and I know a couple of them guys like doing that stuff, a couple of them don’t. I never really did either when I was young, so I can’t say too much, but those are the things that will really help us connect our new guys to new fans and old fans as well. They’ve got to get out there and promote themselves and NASCAR realizes that and they are creating opportunities for those guys to do that.
“(Ryan) Blaney is a natural. He loves promoting the sport. He is great on social media. He says yes to anything. So, he is the kind of guy that is a sponsor’s dream, got a great personality and doesn’t mind going anywhere and everywhere to talk about what he is doing. They need guys like him. He would be a great example, I think, for a lot of the guys to look at and understand kind of how they need to be or how they need to engage. And there are some guys that do it really well and there are some other guys that are great drivers, great people, just a little bit shy or maybe not quite as into the social media thing. I mean I didn’t join until just recently. There are a lot of guys like that that sort of don’t want more on their plate and they look at it as a job or work, but it’s pretty important and I think that we just kind of promote these guys the best we can and there are some of them that make it really easy.
IS THERE ONE BUCKET LIST PLACE WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO PICK UP A VICTORY MORE THAN ANY OTHER?
“The (Coca-Cola) 600 would be awesome. Charlotte is our home track and haven’t won a point’s race there. So, I would like to win there, but there is a long list. Any of them that we haven’t won at would be great. Any win this year, right, would be good. But if I had to pick Charlotte would be… winning the (Coca-Cola) 600 would mean a lot. I always went to that race as a little kid, so I like to win at the places where I spent tons of time at growing up and that was one of them.”
“Yeah, I mean, if we want to get particular we got to get in the Playoffs first to worry about that.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THIS TRACK HAS CHANGED SINCE THE REPAVE AND DO YOU PREFER IT?
“Oh yeah. The new asphalt is not always a lot of fun, really narrow groove, hard to get rubber laid down and if you get outside of that groove it’s real treacherous, you saw Texas was pretty bad. But, it was the best-case scenario because of the work they did all week at Texas, but think about how Michigan used to be when it was repaved, very single groove. Can’t pass when there is only one way around the track, so this place the color of the asphalt has changed quite a bit. It’s gotten slicker and a little more abrasive and we move up and run against the wall, run in the middle, run the bottom and drivers love to have options. If the car is not working perfectly in the groove they are in they can move around and then the old race track, old surface like that gives you that chance. You can’t go moving around on new asphalt you will spin out and wreck. I think everybody loves it. I certainly didn’t hate the old track, as far as the configuration, but I like banking and like running against the wall and we can do that here.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR A FAMILY LIKE THE EARNHARDT’S, PETTY’S, ANDRETTI’S TO HAVE THREE GENERATIONS OF DRIVERS?
“Well you get lucky, I think, but certainly when you are in this sport and you have children it gives them an opportunity to grow up around this environment whether they plug into it and find it interesting and want to pursue a career in it is up to them. But, sometimes they do and that is what you get. You get another generation that gets in there and falls in love with it and becomes a big part of it and sometimes you get that happening generation after generation. Obviously, the chances of your son or having a son or even a daughter, but more so the sons, they are going to want to race, whether they can drive or not. You go over to Millbridge (Speedway) and you will recognize everybody over there. They’ve got all their sons over there racing, some of their daughter’s even and it’s pretty impressive. So, there are a lot of guys that want to race, just some of them don’t get the breaks or don’t have the talent and if you get both then you get to stick around and that is how you develop the generations of successful families.”
AS AN OWNER WHEN YOU ARE NOT RACING IN AN XFINITY SERIES RACE HOW ARE THE NERVES? WHAT ARE YOU FEELING THE FIRST COUPLE OF HOURS BEFORE THAT RACE VERSUS GETTING INTO DRIVE YOUR CUP SERIES CAR?
“I’m not too nervous at Xfinity races until the end. Especially the last couple of weeks, it’s been real difficult. I’m telling you, I ain’t been so sick to my stomach after races as an owner as I have these last two, with the way the cautions have feel for us. And you get angry and you are just as angry as you can before about an hour and then you kind of calm down, try to talk yourself out of it, but yeah, I look at it… it’s a real pleasure to be in the series. We are so fortunate to have the health in our company to be able to have those four full-time teams and a fifth car every once in a while. I just like… you know it’s a way to be involved and a way to be part of the sport. So, when the race starts I’m not sitting there biting my nails, like ‘man how are we going to do today’. It’s just like man, we are here, we made it, we unloaded them all, they are in the race, they are starting, this is great. And then when it gets down to the end you might about win one that is when you start to get nervous.
“When I drive Cup, I put a ton of pressure on myself and it’s not quite as relaxing and easy going.”
WHEN YOU WERE VERY YOUNG AND JUST GETTING INTO CUP RACING, SEVERAL MEDIA INTERVIEWED YOU AND YOU SORT OF SAT THERE AND LOOKED AT YOUR SHOE. YOU DIDN’T SAY MUCH. WHEN WE THINK OF THESE NEW YOUNG GUNS, HOW DID YOU COME OUT TO BE WHO YOU ARE TODAY?
“Well, the social media part of that was working with Jimmie (Johnson). Jimmie was adamant on coaching me and telling me how it’s useful and why I would want to do it. None of the other drivers, or anyone else for that matter, was really pushing me to go in that direction. And he’s like man, you’re going to like it. This is something cool. It’s been a great experience to understand the social side of it; not just Twitter, but a lot of other aspects of it as well.
“And, I don’t know; when I first started racing I didn’t want to do anything but drive. I didn’t want to go do appearances. I hated doing appearances and photo shoots and all that. I just thought that was just so boring. I didn’t really understand how important they were or how critical they were or the marketing and the happiness of the partner. I lot of different things play in the role of maturing you.
“Owning Xfinity teams taught me a ton about what partners want and think and what they like and don’t like and what they need from the driver and from the owners. It certainly shaped my opinion and changed it on how I approach those things. I don’t think I was impossible, but there were days when I was hard to work with and hard to deal with. And, I didn’t want that reputation when I finish driving. I want people to say that I was fun to be with and fun to work with and that I came in with a great attitude and did a good job, whether a photo shoot or a commercial shoot or a meet & greet, or whatever. And, I didn’t care about that when I was younger. I didn’t think about those things. I just thought I like racing. I want to drive. I don’t want to do nothing else. I want to go lay on the couch and eat Doritos and drink Mountain Dew and drive race cars.
“But, I grew up. It just took me a long time to figure all that out. I just think being around Jimmie and Rick (Hendrick) and my sister and people that have told me certain things time and time again, it starts to click and you realize the right way to be and to treat people and do things. I’m still not perfect. I’ve still got a lot of things I can do better. But, I don’t know how you get a guy, a young gun, to come out of his shell. And there’s some guys that just don’t, or don’t want to.
“Look at Jimmie. Like, Jimmie has his limitations to what he wants to do. A lot of you know him well. And, the perception that we have of Jimmie as a person versus what a lot of people know is different. And that’s up to him. And, he wants it that way. I talk to him and say man, you ought to do a podcast. Nah, I don’t want to do that. I just don’t want to do it. He’s like, I have no interest. What he’s got going on as far as how much he exposes himself, that’s where he wants it. He doesn’t want to be more than he is to everyone. So, it really comes down to the driver just having that eagerness.
“Like I was saying that Blaney is incredibly eager. He loves going and doing new things. He’ll do any TV show, or whatever. The other guys are not quite that interested in it. They’re more focused on the car and driving and have worked so hard to get to this point and you know, I don’t want to do all that other stuff, it doesn’t matter. But it matters, especially now. It’s changed tremendously as far as what sponsors will ask of you. The agreements to our sponsorships have changed incredibly as far as what our responsibilities are and what they need. And obviously, I say it all the time. Social media is a big draw. People want people who are active on social media. It’s changed a lot and you’ve got to change with it.”
WHAT’S YOUR ROLE GOING TO BE ON THE DIY NETWORK AND KEY WEST HOME RENOVATION?
“I’ve been wanting to talk about this (laughs) because I think everybody’s got a little bit different idea. But, we bought this property in Key West a long time ago. We didn’t know what to do with it. And I was trying to figure out a way to renovate it but stay reasonable on our expense. And we also had some friends that we knew at the DIY Network and HGTV. And we reached out to those guys and said hey, we really want to renovate this property. There’s kind of a cool process that you go through in Key West with the historic foundation on how you can renovate homes down there and what you can fix and can’t fix. Like if you have a rotten board, they only let you replace the rotten area. You’ve got to keep the rest, and so on. And they go through the whole house sort of picking apart what you can and can’t fix. So, I was thinking this would make a great show.
“I think people connect this to the retirement and it’s absolutely not connected in any way. We were talking to them two and a half years ago about could we do this and would this be interesting to them. Would I have the time to do it? And we finally got it agreed upon to put it together. It’s going to be four episodes and it’s not going to take a ton of my time, but I definitely want to be involved; and Amy and I both want to be involved quite a bit. It just kind of connects to trying to renovate this home in a financially responsible way. And the show helps us do that and that’s the end of it. I don’t know what comes of it afterwards or what this might be a springboard to. We’re certainly open to anything. But, that’s really the story from the top to the very bottom of it. There’s no hidden agenda.”
“The historical folks, the folks down there that are in charge of the Old Town, you can’t just demolish houses. They want everything to look the same and look like it’s been for a hundred years.”
“I think sometimes throughout the year that will be pretty interesting to me, and sometimes maybe not so much. I was reading some emails from Kerry Tharp today about Darlington and the throwback and he said some pretty nice things to me about my support of the track and throwback weekend and all that. So, when I go to Darlington for the last time, that will be pretty interesting as a love/hate relationship with that place. So, hopefully she treats me good this last time.
“The All-Star race, I think it’s changed. It’s almost unrecognizable to what it was when I was a kid. It’s history and legacy is a little bit different for me than it might be for somebody else or somebody new to the sport. Whereas Darlington, to me, hasn’t really changed. It’s always been Darlington. I really dig that nostalgia. So, that will be a more emotional experience I think than the All-Star weekend for me. There will be a lot of things like that throughout the season. I’m excited about that. It’s been an emotional roller coaster that’s been a lot of fun to be on.”