NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Goody's Fast Relief 500
Topics: Goody's Fast Relief 500
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
April 1, 2012
KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our post race for today's 63rd Annual Goody's Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Martinsville Speedway.
We are joined by third place finisher, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He drives the No. 88 AMP Energy Mountain Dew National Guard Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and his showing today puts him up to second in points and is only six points out of the points lead after we take the break here after Martinsville. Talk about the race, strong car up front all day, and got yourself a really good finish here today. I'm sure you'd like to have the win but a strong finish.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I'm real happy with our finish. We worked really hard all day, all weekend really we worked hard to obviously get the best finish we could. This is our first race with AMP on the hood, and we are proud to have a good finish for those guys, had a lot of people here in weekend.
Really, the race, the car was good on the long runs. Obviously drove up there and passed Jeff for the lead and at the end of the race drove back into the top three there, and so the car was really good on the long runs. We didn't have short run speed. We didn't have enough to run with really with a lot of people in the first 20 laps.
But after the lap 45 or so, I thought our car was great, really comfortable and doing everything I wanted it to do. Really, really fun race. This is a fun racetrack. I was really happy with how the race was playing out there until the end. We totalled both sides off my car at the end of the race. Felt unnecessary to me but that's the way it happened.
Q. What's your take on the 10 car? It seemed like about five laps out there, he was going about five miles an hour, and finally came to a stop. You guys were running 1, 2, 3 for Hendrick at the time. What's your thoughts on just all that happened there with that and how that brought out the last yellow?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I would like an explanation on why that happened, from him, his crew chief, somebody. But there's no‑‑ it doesn't seem like there could be a logical reason for him to end up stopped on the track.
He was running around slow; you got a problem, you really ‑‑ get down and get on pit road. I don't believe he had any trouble getting down. When we went by him the first time he was low. I would like to hear a good excuse to be honest with you, because I'm sure it would be laughable. (Laughter).
Q. Talk about the first green‑and‑white checkered, what did you see on the inside line with Newman and Bowyer get going that kind of caused the chain reaction that led to the way the race finished?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Now that I think about it, the leaders had more than a hundred laps on their tires, and the guys behind them had new tires at least on one side of the car. And we all took off and ran in the back of the leaders, all of us.
So Clint went to the inside, and that was his prerogative, man. He was going for the win and I thought it was a good move. Just not enough room for all three of them down there in that corner and everybody got together.
Q. Obviously Hendrick going for win No. 200 today, I think you guys were one two, three up until the final caution. So did David Reutimann pretty much just cost you guys the big day, and can you talk about the disappointment for you and Jeff and Jimmie not getting 200?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Disappointing for everybody to run as good as we did today and not finish up there. I know Jeff is especially disappointed because of the way his year's been going. And I've got a real good idea of what his opinion is about that.
You know, Jimmie is trying to climb back into it, and they had the winning cars all day, both of them. You know, I expressed my opinion about the finish there and the guys stopping on the track. And I don't think I want to talk about it too much. I don't want to say more until I get an explanation from them or read one somewhere. Maybe you guys can track one down.
KERRY THARP: Let's also hear from our race runner‑up, AJ Allmendinger and he drivers the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing.
AJ, certainly advantage of the turn of events at the end, and had a strong finish for you. Talk about how the 22 car performed out there this afternoon.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It was really good. Obviously really happy with the finish. But more than anything, just proud of the day.
We were pretty bad all weekend, and struggling and Todd Gordon and the guys, they went to work. Ultimately it's just about trying to learn each other, learn what I need in the race car. He made some really good changes overnight, and you know, we had a solid Top‑10 car. I don't think it was a second‑place car.
As Dale said, Jimmie and Jeff and Dale himself were the class of the field by the end there. I felt like we had a really long‑run car. Good forward drive, and ultimately, our new tires were just a little bit tight so that's what got us there on the restart.
But all in all, just really proud of the day and my crew; my spotter, Crazy, he was doing a good job, just everybody was really solid on the Shell Pennzoil Dodge. Hopefully we can take this momentum and learn from what we learned today and take it into the off week and keep building on it going into Texas.
Q. AJ, you were never quite up front during the course of the race, but did you feel when you found yourself alongside Ryan Newman at the very end, you had a shot?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I knew I had a shot. I knew Dale and Martin were on two tires, as well.
So you know, I was‑‑ I knew I had a shot, but Ryan had been really good all day. He kind of‑‑ I think he basically had one bad run that got him shuffled in back‑‑ or he had a pit road penalty and that's what caught him there.
So I knew being on the bottom, and as tight as I was anyway on new tires, it was going to be tough to get around. But he ran me really clean. He didn't shove me up the racetrack like he could have. He gave me the opportunity to beat him on the outside there. We just were not turning good enough in the center there on the restart. But we had a shot at it. That's all you can ask for.
Q. Talk about the first green‑and‑white checkered attempt, you came out with very little damage. What did you see there and how did you make your way through it to give yourself a chance to win?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: You know, I knew basically I was the second guy on four tires, I think Matt was the first guy. He was starting 8th and I was starting 9th. For me I was just focused on Martin because he had two tires, and was‑‑ I knew he was probably going to spin the tires.
So I was just trying to get a launch on him and I got under him on the restart to get under‑‑ to make it three‑wide on the bottom and then I looked up and saw the 15 kind of sideways across the curb. From there on, I just tried to stay as low as possible and went over the top of the curb to try to miss everybody.
Q. For the last year, I've been watching Hendrick a lot and paying attention to things as a team and I noticed this year you guys have changed differently. Even though your team is not doing well on the racetrack, can you just tell me what, if anything, has changed? Are you guys bonding differently or better?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: A lot of Kumbaya singing? Campfires? (Laughing).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't know what we have done and our team has done really and I'm happy with the way our car is running.
I can't believe the 5 and the 24, they have been fast, the 5, sitting on the pole and he has been fast everywhere. He was killer fast at Phoenix. The 24 has been lightning fast at a lot of places. Jimmie is always quick everywhere. So they just had really bad luck.
I think we are‑‑ I think we actually have more speed as a group, as a whole, than we did last year.
Q. I know this is your first Top‑5 since Charlotte last year, what's it like to be in that position to have that opportunity to win and obviously with coming over in the new team trying to impress and show people you are deserving of that situation? What goes through your mind, or I guess you're just focusing on what you do.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It's pretty simple. First time I've ever had a chance to win a Sprint Cup race, so I was going to do everything I could.
Why didn't I wreck him? He actually got a good drive off 2. I would have had to wreck both of us to get into him in the three to get him.
I don't want to win like that. That's not the way I want to win a race. He did everything clean on the restart. He could have drove me off the racetrack, and if he would have done that then it's kind of like, okay, it's game on.
But he gave me all the chances that I could to go beat him. We came off the white side‑by‑side and he rolled 1 and 2 really good, and that was it. I wasn't going to‑‑ you race people how they race you. And if he would have just drove into the corner, left side of me and got me out of the way, then I would have probably run into him. He didn't do that and he didn't deserve to get wrecked.
Ultimately for me, I put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, because I know these guys that are on this 22 car. They are used to running up front every weekend and they are used to having a chance to win races or used to winning races. I put that on me to go out there and step up to the game.
We've had some bad luck, too. Vegas, we were fast and we had the fuel pump issue. Bristol, we were really fast early in the race and we had a rear end problem that broke and that cost us our handling.
So ultimately, it's just myself and Todd Gordon. It's his first year in Cup. Five races, six races in the Cup now and us working together. Obviously we would like to go out there and set the world on fire but it's not that easy. We are just going to keep working hard.
Q. Do you walk away disappointed or not?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: No, for the way we ran all weekend‑‑ even if the yellow wouldn't have come out, we would have finished eighth where we were running. I was going to be happy because we were a Top‑10 car all day. We worked our way up there and did all the right things. From 27th on, from where we started, we didn't have any fender damage. We were clean. I was going to be happy with that. At the end, you get a little bit lucky on a restart and you have a chance.
Q. For the last two weeks, we've been hearing how fans want to see more beating and banging and craziness out there, do you think this is what they meant?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, I think green‑and‑white checkered finishes, they are okay, but the way this one happened‑‑ I'm really okay with the way the racing was at the end of the race. That was fine with me. Clint going for the win, we all get down there and wided up; that was racing to me. That's okay.
I just don't like how the caution come out. So, you know, I don't have a problem with the green and white checkers. My opinion of them are kind of positive.
Q. If you don't mind, we have comment from Reutimann if you would like to hear it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Sure.
Q. He said: I would not have stopped on the freaking racetrack‑‑ to think ‑‑ (indiscernible) ‑‑ going on the back straightaway, I know it sucks and I hated for everybody to be affected, but I can't get out and push the thing. I was just trying to finish the day out and stay in the top 35. So can I get your reaction to that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, I don't.
KERRY THARP: Dale and AJ, thanks a lot. Y'all have a good Easter. Thank you.
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