NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Topics: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
September 7, 2008
KERRY THARP: We now are going to roll into our Chase field drivers for 2008. We have Kevin Harvick, driver of the number 29 shell Pennzoil Chevrolet; Clint Bowyer secured that final spot in the Chase, the driver of the 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt, Junior, driver of the Number 88 National Guard Amp Energy Drink will also be in the Chase.
Clint, we'll start with you. How does it feel to get in the Chase and get that final spot?
CLINT BOWYER: Good. We knew it was going to be a roller coaster all day. The car was good early. Had track position and we got behind there. Everybody stayed out and then we had a bad pit stop and got way behind and the car was tight back there in traffic and about went a lap down, you see your Chase hopes going by the wayside there, and luckily caution came out at the right time and things worked out.
Real proud of the guys for sticking together. It's been a rough summer and a lot of things have happened on our organization and team to get things distracted but everyone stuck together and we are in this thing together.
KERRY THARP: Dale, your thoughts getting into the Chase. You have to feel good about the 88 car this year.
DALE EARNHARDT, JUNIOR: Yeah, I feel good. We are going back to a lot of tracks we did good at like at the start of the season. Things went like I wanted them to go. Happy about how we ran, gives us a good boost, we were really competitive today.
Q. Dale, the obvious question, could you sort of describe, frame by frame, the incident with Kyle Busch.
DALE EARNHARDT, JUNIOR: He's racing hard. He was up front leading and I was a little -- I felt like I was a little quicker and was gaining on him a little bit on each corner and I was on the bottom real tight and that wasn't going to get by him. So I moved up to get next to him and race him hard and I got down into 1 too hard and got into the quarter panel and spun him out. It was an accident that it happened but you know -- and it was midway through the race.
Q. The replays looked a little bit like he might have come down on you; did he? And also, can you address whether, in fact, this was -- had anything to do with the spring race here?
DALE EARNHARDT, JUNIOR: Well, I think if I wanted to -- if I wreck somebody, I ain't going to leave him in good enough shape to come back and get me in the same race, so that wasn't really my intentions. If I wanted to -- I really ain't never wrecked anybody on purpose -- I can go back and remember a couple of times but if I wanted to do it, I would do it really, really good.
So I don't know, he might have -- he was pretty far up the racetrack. I had plenty of room. This is the deal. He might have come down, you know, whatever, but it's really the guys on the inside's job to take care of the guy on the outside. It's not his job to move out of my way even if I'm on his left rear quarter panel.
I tried to stop left front. We slid to left front for 15 to 20 yards and that thing vibrated the whole rest of that run and we sort of faded from there on out.
Q. Giving your wish list to Rick Hendrick on the closing laps, what would you like to get from the boss man for the Chase?
DALE EARNHARDT, JUNIOR: Oh, that was all private conversation between me and my team, at least I would like to think so. (Laughter).
I don't know, I've got a lot of stuff on my wish list. I ain't got everything I want yet but we're working on. The reaction after the spin with Kyle was pretty impressive.
KERRY THARP: Dale, you're released, congratulations.
Now we are going to finish up with Clint Bowyer and we are also joined by Matt Kenseth and I'm going to call up Kevin Harvick again, if Kevin can come back up. Appreciate your patience.
Matt, you've become only one of two drivers to get a spot in the Chase all five years of it's existence; your thoughts about that. That's got to be a good accomplishment for You.
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I mean, I guess, you know, I'm glad we're in. I mean, it was a disappointing day. I was pretty much in the way of everybody all day. I was pretty much a rolling chicane after David's spun in front of me and then as soon as he spun, I spun and didn't really have anywhere to go. I don't know if there was oil or whatever it was, just weird, his car turned sideways and spun out and after that mine did it and after that got a black flag for sheet metal hanging off or something and lost a couple of laps and everything snowballed from there.
Glad we're in but if we operate like, this we won't do anything it, everybody that's in wants to run for the championship and we have a lot of improvement to do that.
KEVIN HARVICK: It's great to finally get all that over with and we've run well the last few months and to have to keep that up and pick it up a notch and make something happen.
Glad that we've been able to be competitive over the last few months but now we need to be more competitive as we go forward.
KERRY THARP: Questions now for Kevin, Clint and Matt.
Q. Clint, were you aware that you had fallen out of the 12 position, and was there any panic in the car? What were you thinking at that time?
CLINT BOWYER: Hell, yeah, there was. It was not only that. I was fixing to go a lap down and that was very nerve-wracking. You know, the guys, we kept our composure, that caution came out and we got the adjustment we needed and was able to drive back up through them. You know, it's frustrating because we had a good car, and I thought that we had a Top-5 car and it got back there and had a couple bad pit stops and that's all it takes. The field is so close and the cars are so close to running the same speed; it's so hard to pass and once we get strung out, the rest is history. You might get one or two, but you're not going to get many more than that. Just got behind.
Q. Could you talk about the contact with the 01; did you know the 6 was on the outside up there, and was that just to get by the 01 or was that kind of -- you knew that 6 was there?
CLINT BOWYER: No, I was underneath the 01 and he just drove -- he elected to drive across the hood of my car. So I mean, it was -- you know, obviously you don't want to do anything to harm the 6 car.
You know, you want to be able to earn your way into this thing. It would be pretty chicken of you to do something like that on purpose or intentional. It was just an unfortunate situation. We were racing hard and we talked about it. I was trying to pin you behind a lapper and you were trying to get under me. It was just good, hard racing.
You know, David is a good kid. He's come a long ways and he'll be in this thing next year.
Q. Could you just talk about going from barely getting in to now they are saying you're the fifth seed, which I'm still trying to figure out but I'm very poor in math; that's why I'm a journalist. Could you talk about making that big leap there?
CLINT BOWYER: It's been a tough summer for all of our team. Just making the Chase is a big deal -- we've been struggling and there have been a lot of things going on in our organization and our team in particular, and everybody stuck together. The last three weeks have been a step in the right direction, and, you know, with some momentum, I think we can do just fine in the Chase. We are going to a race that we won last year, and, you know, got the thing started on the right foot, so hopefully we can have a good run there and do just that.
Q. I think this is your sixth consecutive Top-10 and I think you led almost as many laps in this race as you have in the entire season; can you just talk about the momentum for you going into the Chase?
KEVIN HARVICK: This week obviously we didn't capitalize 100% on our car. I felt like we had a Top 3 car and a short run, I felt like we were able to -- if we were able to get track position like we had at the beginning of the race, we were good and just got off a little bit in the middle of the race.
The car has been really good over the last three months. That's me, I like to lead laps but I haven't been a big lap leader. I seem to lead a few laps at the end -- if we win, it's not like we are really dominant. That's just kind of our M.O. and how we function. For whatever reason, that's the way it is and just glad that the cars are running good and just have to pick it up a notch. I've told them, first or 12th, that's all that matters; we've been everywhere in between. Take some chances, on pit road, off pit road, in the car and everywhere in between, I hope.
Q. How does this compare with '06 when you came in and had some momentum, won here and won in New Hampshire; any similarities or totally different feeling?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think, you know, 2006, we were able to capitalize on the days when we had really good cars and were able to capitalize and win some races. I think we won five or six races that year. I believe we won this race and Lowden. So we had a lot of momentum but we faded at the end.
I felt like our mile-and-a-half program is very good right now. For whatever reason, that's been our weakness before and right now that's our strength. So hopefully that continues, and we can keep that going forward on the big tracks, because that's where you're going to have to be good, because there's so many of them.
Q. In what way does this season feel like a little bit of dejavu for you, especially the way you fought your way into the Chase again, and are you hoping history repeats itself going into New Hampshire?
CLINT BOWYER: I hope it does but we needed a little bit of a kick in the pants. That's what it is. We needed a little bit of momentum, and getting in this Chase and making it is a big part of that.
You know, it's been a struggle all summer long, like I said, and just making this Chase just kind of makes up for that a little bit and hopefully we can keep our heads to the grindstone and get after it.
Q. Before the accident, it looked like your car was not half bad. I know you said if you run that way it wouldn't do you any good, but before the wreck, does that give you optimism going into the mace?
MATT KENSETH: We started fairly close to the front in the qualifying and that particular run I think was an 80-lap run or something like that, it was a really long run. We had run really bad for 25 or 30 laps and the last 40 laps we could run pretty good but we lost so much ground in the beginning. Looked like it was better than it was because we could use a lot of the track and were around a lot of cars and could build momentum. Our last 40 laps of fuel run we were pretty fast but the first part was treacherous.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations and look forward to seeing you these next ten races.
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