MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BIG MACHINE VODKA 400 AT THE BRICKYARD
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY EVENT TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 8, 2018
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., 2018 INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY CHEVROLET CAMARO PACE CAR DRIVER, met with members of the media at the Brickyard and unveiled the 2018 Camaro ZL1 pace car for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard and spoke about his upcoming driving duties.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG DRIVER WHO IS GOING TO HAVE TO RACE WITH NO PRACTICE OR NO QUALIFYING?
“I don’t know that there is a lot you can tell them that would be of much help. I can only imagine what they would be thinking. I would be very curious and cautious leading up to those first couple of laps. You can feel the car out and start gaining the confidence in the balance and the grip of the car. By lap three you have got the car figured out and you know what you have, and what you need to work on. The one thing you can count on is everybody’s car is going to have some issues that they will want to address. Having balance and handling issues without any practice, all those guys are going to have something they want their crew chief to work on. That should be about the third lap of the race and that quickly you will know what that is. The track is going to go through a cycle of change since there is no rubber on the race track. The cars will put that rubber down pretty quickly causing the track to change significantly in the first 30 to 40 laps. NASCAR will have a competition yellow at the end of 10 laps, so that also will give the teams the opportunity to work on the car, make the adjustments they need to make as well as put tires on it. The first set of tires is going to take a tremendous amount of wear because of the track not having any rubber down. There’s a lot of things that will be going on, and the teams will be scrambling to try to download all of this data and try to get ahead of it, and figure it out and get an advantage before anyone else does. Some guys are going to hit the track pretty close, but some guys are going to have to work hard all day to get their shot.”
ON DRIVING THE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 PACE CAR:
“To have the opportunity to do that is something I think is pretty cool. I appreciate Chevrolet asking me to do it. It is an honor for me to lead the field. I think It’s an experience everyone should want to try and do if they can. My wife got to do it last year at Martinsville. She did it for the Martinsville race last year and that was pretty awesome. It will be a busy morning, a lot of responsibilities that goes along with that with also getting ready for the TV broadcast. It is something I wanted to do so when I got asked, I thought I would give it a go! The most exciting part will probably be right when you are leading the field to the green flag, There is so much energy from the field and the fans knowing that the race is about to start. Pulling down pit road and watching those cars go by as they take the green flag that will be something I will remember for a long time.”
ON WHAT TO EXPECT FOR THE RACE:
“The fact that the drivers didn’t have any practice is going to make for a more dramatic race. It is going to be interesting watching the teams scramble and gain what they can on the handle of their cars-Keeping up with the changing of the race track. I expect it to be a very interesting and intriguing race as it plays out. I don’t think there is going to be one guy that jumps out and dominates the entire thing. There will probably be some different names up toward the front at every stage. They had a wild race here last year the way that thing finished once they got to that last stage. I anticipate seeing the same thing. With that being said and this being the last regular season race, there are a lot of guys that aren’t in the playoffs. The only way they can get in the playoffs is by winning. How aggressive will they be? I can’t wait to find out just how aggressive their crew chiefs and the drivers will be willing to get to try to win this race. There is really no consolation to finishing good-they have to win! That is all that really matters. So, will they stick their necks out over the line. That will be interesting to see.”
SO, WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU ARE ALEX BOWMAN, JUST GO ON SAME STRATEGY ALL OF THOSE OTHER GUYS HAVE DURING THE RACE?
“I guess you could if he has enough points. He has enough points to screw it up. If it doesn’t work, I would say he is in a position to gamble, and, not in a position where he needs to be cautious. If I was his crew chief, I would be looking at this as an opportunity to put all your chips in. Just push them all in and go for broke. I would do whatever you thought you needed to do to win. He has so many points that if he screws up and finishes last, oh well. He’s still going to get in unless one of the other guys wins. I think he would try to gamble and win the race himself.”
HOW IS RETIREMENT GOING AND THE TRANSITION TO THE TELEVISION BOOTH?
“I don’t know that I call it retirement any more. I work so much more now than I did as a driver. We have so many things going on-stuff that I would sort of put on the shelf when I was driving. When I was a driver people assumed I had no time for anything else, or I was focused on nothing but the driving and everything else had to wait. Now, I haven’t learned how to say no yet. Just saying yes to everything that sounds good. We have about half dozen projects that are going on right now that are need something weekly. We are trying to grow our podcasts. We have our Wednesday show on NBCSN. We have the race weekend and all that goes with that. Then there is Whiskey River and trying to grow that brand. Trying to open more stores across the country. The dealership. It just goes and goes and goes. Plus the race team – JR Motorsports – trying to give them what they need. It’s just a busy. Super busy. Trying to be at home as much as I can to spend time with Isla and my wife Amy. She hasn’t been to any races. She was at Daytona, and she was here, but she went home because of the weather. So, trying to be home as much as I can to be around them. So it has been crazy busy, but at the same time rewarding. It is really rewarding and a lot of fun. I’m glad I’m at the track. I love being at the track. I want to be at the track. So this is a great opportunity for me to feel like I still play a small role in the sport, and be around the sport. It’s turned out to be more fun that I thought it could be.”
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