MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
APACHE WARRIOR 400
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed his career at Dover, spending more time with family, potential of running late model races in the future and many other topics. Full Transcript:
Dover International Speedway presented Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with a commemorative memento to remember his 2001 victory that united an entire nation after the event of 9/11.
“I have always said, I think no matter who had won that race that day they would have done the same thing, they would have done something to express their feelings and how the country was feeling. You could sense in the grandstands and it built up inside of everybody and I think that I was really… I felt very lucky to be the guy that got to win that race in that circumstance, but I know that anyone would have reacted very similarly considering what we were going through. But, I appreciate this race track that was a very special win for me personally and I will have this to remember that day for a very long time. This has been a track where we had some good runs and as any track it is up’s and down’s but there is a respect and appreciation and we unloaded really good today. So, that was also a big plus. I think our car has got some good speed this weekend, so I’m pretty excited about how tomorrow may go for practice, but again, I want to thank Dover, the staff here, they have a unique history as a track in this sport. They have done some very interesting and innovative things to remain relevant and give the fans a great experience with the casino out front, the infrastructure inside the trace track, the bus lot, everything about this place is first class. We have always enjoyed coming here from that stand point and they’ve got some great restaurants around here and it’s really flat for you cyclist, so, really enjoy coming here. Can’t wait to continue to come for many years, so thank you again.”
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF RUNNING THE MARTINSVILLE LATE MODEL RACE IN THE FUTURE:
“Oh man, I don’t know about the 300. We have spent a lot more money than we ever took home from over there I will tell you that. It’s a big race, very prestigious, but I will kind of leave it to them young guns to battle for that. If anything, I would have interest in sneaking over to a track somewhere and just running a short weekly show trying to get in there under the radar and have some fun and not really a big show like the 300, but you never say never. I don’t know really how I will feel. I’m really interested just what the urges will be once I’m out of the car full-time. If I’m going to really miss driving the cars more than I think and maybe I will want to drive the late model more often, but obviously, it’s a team back there at the house. It ain’t just me. So, I’ve got to run it by the whole group and make sure everybody feels comfortable with that. I definitely want to focus as well on my next job too. Again, I love running the late models and I like to have those cars competing every week, it keeps you sort of plugged in to the grassroots and it’s a great feeling to give to those tracks and support your local tracks and I certainly have some curiosity about going to those tracks at some point in racing. But, I don’t know about that big show at Martinsville that would be a little bit of a commitment.”
ON SPENDING MORE TIME WITH FAMILY:
“I think I just never had the time, me personally and this isn’t the way everyone is, but this is the way I am when I was racing full time for the last 20 years I was negative toward doing anything else outside of racing. I wouldn’t make time to be with family or get out of that element and it was racing, racing, racing, racing and very self-centered and doing whatever I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. Being out of the car last year for half of the season… Amy has been a big influence on my life and changed me as a person in the way I think and see things. And I think has made me a more compassionate, nicer, thoughtful person and being out of the car as well last year for so much time gave me a whole new perspective on life and what things are important and what things might not be so important. As we get older you have these thoughts about, man, I really need to spend time with my brother or my nephew as the years go by there will be a day where this will be difficult to do or impossible to do. I am certainly more… and Amy pushes me in that direction, she pushed me to go bowfishing that night. She is like you need to go be with them boys and be with your brother and so, again, I can’t give Amy enough credit for how she has showed me a whole new perspective on life and that definitely showed me how to enjoy it. But, yeah for the longest time when I was racing I didn’t want to do nothing. Everything sounded like it was in the way. If it wasn’t driving cars it wasn’t an option, it wasn’t on the table. I didn’t want to do it or be around it. I didn’t have time even though I had the time that was the excuse. But, now, I’m excited about getting out of the car and having time to do those type of things and spent more time around my family and friends. If you let it, racing can make you really narrow-minded, frustrated, hard to be around, difficult person to deal with and it did that to me for a very long time. I let it happen and certainly have learned from that over the years. So, I am excited to start a family. I hope that I’m fortunate enough to do that with Amy and we definitely want to do that. It will be weird not being a race car driver if I have a daughter or a son, I think about that too, will they even understand what I’m trying to tell them when I try to explain what I did for a living for a long time. Or maybe that doesn’t matter? I don’t know. A lot of things I’m probably thinking about don’t matter when you have a child, but I’m hoping to find out all that stuff here soon.”
YOU WERE THE FIRST TO SPEAK OUT ON TWITTER FOR PEACEFUL PROTEST. CURIOUS WHAT THE REACTION WAS FROM OTHER DRIVERS AND TEAM MEMBERS IN THE INDUSTRY ABOUT WHETHER THEY SHOULD HAVE THAT RIGHT AND HAVE YOU HAD ANY DISCUSSIONS AT HENDRICK ABOUT ANY PROTOCOL ON WHEN THE ANTHEM IS PLAYED?
“No, I haven’t. I haven’t had any discussions with any other drivers or crew members. There is always open dialogue with Hendrick Motorsports as my employer and my boss man Rick (Hendrick) but we really haven’t had much conversation about it to be honest with you.”
WHAT IS YOUR STANCE ON THAT IF YOU CAN REITERATE IT IN PERSON AND NOT OVER TWITTER. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE GUYS? IT ALMOST SEEMS LIKE ITS GOTTEN A LITTLE LOST INTO WHAT PEOPLE ARE KNEELING FOR AND LOCKING ARMS FOR AT THIS POINT. ITS CONFUSING. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE WHOLE THING?
“Well, I have always stood for the anthem and I always will. But, I am not quick to rush to judgement to somebody that will and wants to do something different. We have a podcast that we put out every Tuesday and we had a pretty good discussion on that, which pretty much summed up my position. And I feel confident that anyone that listens to that will know exactly how I feel.”
WHAT NAME WOULD YOU USE TO ENTER A RACE AFTER YOU RETIRE?
“What name? Oh. William Bonney. That was Billy the Kid’s name and that was what I used at hotels. And well, I don’t sleep in too many hotels anymore but William Bonney was always the moniker that we would use in those kinds of situations. But I doubt I would even try it. I would just come on in there to race and I really wouldn’t have any reason to hide I suppose. I might enjoy signing some autographs and just be in that environment as a driver. That is probably going to be hard to just quit cold turkey. So, it might do me some good to have those feelings again and just be down in the pits and roaming around. I have been there as a car owner and I was lucky enough to be at one particular race where we won so we got to take pictures in victory lane. Which is a lot of fun. I am sure I will miss that as a driver but that is definitely going to happen. I don’t want to make this sound like I had plans to do this, because I have a wife at home that is a part of the discussion, before it happens. I have to make sure it’s good for both of us and that it’s something fun to do. Then maybe I go do that.”
LAST WEEK WE HEARD THE PRESIDENT SAY THAT NASCAR FANS WOULD NEVER DISRESPECT THE FLAG AND THEN YOU CAME OUT WITH YOUR TWEET. IN THE LIGHT OF ALL OF THAT AND WITH WHAT RICHARD PETTY AND RICHARD CHILDRESS SAID, HOW, IF AT ALL, WOULD NASCAR
DRIVERS BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY THAN OTHER PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES IF THEY TOOK A KNEE OR DID SOME OTHER PEACEFUL PROTEST. SO, IF THEY WOULD BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY, HOW COME?
“I think the whole sport respects Richard Petty and Richard Childress for what they have accomplished and what they have done. They speak for themselves and they don’t speak for the entire sport, I believe. I think everybody would handle those situations differently and I can’t speak for other owners about how they would handle that situation.”
HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE IS IT GROWING THE SPORT AND GETTING TEENAGERS AND KIDS INTERESTED NOT IN RACING, BUT JUST IN CARS IN GENERAL?
“Oh yeah, I think that there are a lot of different ways to get the fans to hit that demographic. There are a lot of ways in social media being creative there. There are a lot of kids that are growing up in a social media environment where as my generation didn’t. So, they are on these different platforms and we need to go there with people they relate to, to connect to them in those areas. I’m a little biased, but things my niece has been doing in the past with Nickelodeon and so forth and a lot of things they have done on social media and those little skits and so forth is a great way, I think, to reach that demographic. There is also, I was speaking about this earlier last week, the fantasy platform for us has not reached its full potential. I think it’s got great potential to get there. I think it has a great opportunity with the stage racing and so forth to become quite a booming business for NASCAR and I think there is a young demographic there as well. I mean there are a lot of fans I think that would tune-in to racing if that was… that is a catalyst for that. I know that has worked for the NFL and I made a comment on Twitter about that last week and a lot of people responded with ‘that is why I watch the NFL’ or ‘I was not even a casual fan until I started playing fantasy and now I’m watching multiple games a week’ and I think that is a great area as well. I mean there are a lot of pieces of the pie, but that is one piece that I think NASCAR has a lot of great potential and growth. I probably watched maybe three or four Redskins games a year considering my schedule, but now I can’t get enough because of the fantasy platform and what that has done for me. I watch different teams and different games that I would have never have watched before, so I think that is a great area as well. It’s a real challenge to try to figure out how to get these younger kids, I mean the CARS movies, anything that is going to … any kind of production like that that is going to target the youth is always amazing. So, anytime we have a big hit like that that is going to be a big deal for us as a sport. So, we can’t do enough of those things.”
IS THERE A REASON YOU FEEL SO COMFORTABLE SPEAKING YOUR MIND WHEN OTHER DRIVERS MIGHT NOT BE?
“I have just always been pretty transparent. I don’t always claim to be right, but I think in transparency in conversation and compassion you can learn from others. There is only one way to sort of do that and that is by communication and sharing. So, I have always sort of been eager in a sense to know more and to learn more and to try to understand both sides and so I think that is where that comes from.”