MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BIG MACHINE VODKA 400 AT THE BRICKYARD
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 9, 2018
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., 2018 INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY CHEVROLET CAMARO PACE CAR DRIVER, met with members of the media and discussed driving the 2018 Camaro ZL1 pace car for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, his broadcasting experience thus far, the upcoming Richmond race, and more. Full Transcript:
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRIVE THE PACE CAR TODAY?
“I was asked if I would be interested in doing that and it’s such an historic race track and a big race for the series, plus the relationship with Chevrolet that I’ve had for years, it just made a lot of sense to me, as long as everybody with NBC and with the broadcast didn’t mind. Obviously, I’ll miss the front end of the show and probably won’t get up into Turn 2 until a few laps into the race, but we’ve got a plan to make sure all that is real smooth. So it will be good. It will be a bit of a bucket-list kind of item for me, and I’m looking forward to it.”
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY SURPRISING CHALLENGES THAT HAVE COME UP WITH THE BROADCASTING THAT YOU WEREN’T REALLY EXPECTING?
“It just takes a little bit of preparation and you kind of get out of it what you put in. And, it’s really been pleasant; everything across the board from the relationships, the people, the necessary work that needs to be put in. But there are no major surprises, I guess. I’ll probably think of one when I walk out of here (the media center). I’ve had a great time doing it and I think, I guess, one thing that it a little bit unsettling, not in a bad way, but a bit unsettling is how different we do it each week. In my mind, I had this consistent, where we’d be in the booth and I’d be sharing the booth with one of the three guys. They may move those guys around a little bit but boy, we have really done each broadcast, it seems, completely different. So, that’s kept you on your toes.
“Like today, the challenge is the drivers with no practice, but we’re going to go into this broadcast doing it radio-style, which I’ve only done once at The Glen. And we’re going to go into it with no practice. That’s an interesting challenge. The practice is a bit of a way to gather your thoughts for the race and take notes and kind of reintroduce yourselves to the storylines and new storylines. So much content is created through that Friday and Saturday experience and we don’t have that. So, that’ll be interesting to see what that does for me and whether I’ve prepared enough or not prepared enough throughout the weekend. I don’t know exactly what I could be doing since I’m just sitting there waiting on things like everyone else.
“It’s been interesting, though. Every week it’s been a new challenge. I guess maybe it’ll just be like that.”
YOUR INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM BENSINGER WAS RELEASED THIS PAST WEEK AND YOU TALKED ABOUT YOUR CONCUSSIONS, DAYTONA, AND BROADCASTING LIKE YOU JUST SAID. IT WAS A DEEP AND CANDID INTERVIEW. HOW DID YOU REALLY ENJOY THAT EXPERIENCE AND GRAHAM’S INTERVIEW TYPE OF STYLE? IT SEEMS LIKE HE GETS A LOT OUT OF PEOPLE.
“Yeah, you meet people like that and sit down; him and Dan Patrick, there are a few people that you feel comfortable with; and there’s just you and him in the room and you never imagine the response that something like that is going to get. You are never thinking about that during the interview. Had I been thinking about that, I might not have been as candid. And we were in a location that was comfortable with me. We were on my property and so it was just like talking to a new friend. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a little bit too honest about certain things in my life, but going through those experiences, my initiative is really just trying to help someone. If one person hears about the advice or the mistakes or the missteps that I made, and makes a better choice; that’s really all that matters to me. And, there’s only one way to help people and that’s to share that information. So hopefully, the book does that. We’ve got our doctors on board with the book, which was incredibly helpful to add some credibility to that. So, I’m excited about the response from that once that comes out.
“But, doing that type of interview is always enjoyable and I hope to be as good at getting that out of people myself one day. You know, you sit there while you’re being interviewed and you’re sort of learning as well from a broadcasting standpoint. And I’ve always kind of watched Dan Patrick as well and how does he get people to be so candid and honest and it’s about how you deliver the question. Dan is real good about being short; so it almost forces the person being interviewed to expand, you know? And he lets them. Once they get going, he just kind of backs-up and lets them go. I’ve learned a lot just watching people like that.”
YOU’LL BE BACK IN THE XFINITY CAR IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS AT RICHMOND. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ABOUT THAT?
“I’m looking forward to it. I didn’t miss racing at the start of the year at all. I didn’t miss driving much. When I got back to the broadcasting and started to really plug into what the races were like and what was going on, you see moments in the races that make you wish you were out there doing that. And so, I started to miss it a little bit. I like Richmond as a track. And it’s a pretty straightforward little race track. We have had success there. I’m not really putting any expectations or pressure on myself as far as performance. I just want to go run and have fun. It’s the only time I’m going to race a car this year. And it may be the last time I race a car. I really don’t know what our plans are going forward. I don’t really have any initiative to drive a ton of races. So, we’ll just kind of see what kind of opportunities there are down the road with the sponsorships and so forth that help the rest of the company. But, hopefully I get to run all the laps and just enjoy driving the car. The only reason you get behind the wheel of a race car is because it’s fun and you enjoy the competition. Hopefully those are things that I get out of it and try not to get real competitive about it. I don’t want to sweat over every lap and how fast we are in practice and all those things, and make it a miserable experience (laughs) because most race car drivers tend to do that if you’re not careful.”
WATCHING YOU ON TELEVISION, IT APPEARS TO BE A VERY NATURAL THING FOR YOU. YOU’VE GOTTEN A LOT OF POSITIVE RESPONSE AS TO HOW YOU’VE DONE. HAS IT TURNED OUT, FROM YOUR ANGLE, AS EASY TO DO THIS AT IT APPEARS?
“No, I’m really nervous. Typically, I don’t like to be nervous. I’m anxious about how this day is going to go without any practice, like I said. That opportunity to get in there and work a little bit during the practice sort of knocks the nerves down a little bit and brings down the anxiety some. And you get opportunities to sort of practice what the racing is going to be like because we’re going to go around the horn, where ‘Bags’ (Mike Bagley) tosses it to me and then I toss it to Jeff (Burton). And then the guys in the booth will take the front straightaway. And we’ll kind of do this baton-toss for a few laps and that’s kind of a nerve-wracking time because you get nervous, you know. Your turn is coming up and ‘Bags’ is so good you don’t want to kill the energy that he’s creating and so you try to just do your job and get it to the next guy.
“I didn’t even pay attention to this stuff when I wasn’t in broadcasting. It’s so funny. The complexities and things going on in the broadcast production side of it that you had no idea were happening when you’re driving a car. I hope to get a lot better. I want to be around a long time. I want to do this for a while. I really enjoy it. So, I think there are areas where I can improve and I’ve got to pay my dues kind of thing. So, I’m doing that. It’s not easy. It feels stressful and there’s some competition. There are really good people in that production team and in the booth. All the people have great personalities and are fun to be around. But, it’s competitive in the sense. They lean on you to do your job and hold up your end, you know? You can’t come in ill prepared. And, it’s obvious when you’re not doing your homework. It’s obvious to everyone in the room. We spend so much time around each other. So, there’s a little pressure and it’s good. It’s competitive and the team pushes you. So, I’m trying to find my place and try to do a good job and make them glad that they hired me.”
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