NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 15, 2016
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed having Peyton Manning as a guest at the track this weekend, his thoughts on loose wheels, the success of the banana and mayonnaise and many other topics. Full Transcript:
THROUGH YOUR DRIVEN TO GIVE PROGRAM AND PARTNERSHIP WITH NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PROGRAM GOING ON THIS WEEKEND TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT:
“We have eight-year-old Aiden on the passenger side of the car. He is going to be our champion child this race weekend that we are celebrating. Obviously, we are trying to raise money to fight autism this month with the Driven to Give gloves. We did the glove auctions throughout the season last year with a lot of success. We wanted to tweak that program a little bit this year to try to raise even more funds. We’ve been wearing these blue gloves all month. At the end of the month we are going to auction them off and raise money for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. I’ve had a chance to go up there and take a tour. We will be going again this year. It’s an amazing place doing a lot of great things. They have improved and learned so much over the last couple of decades to be able to make such a huge difference in the lives of these children they are treating. It’s awesome to be a part of that and be able to help. That is how we are doing it this year. I think we are going to have four months that we focus on this year where we will wear different colored gloves and have a champion child that we will have on the car at some of those events throughout the year raising money for different causes, different illnesses. We are excited. We have been wearing these blue gloves for a few races now. I’m looking forward to auctioning them things off and trying to raise some good money.”
THIS SUNDAY YOU WILL HAVE A SPECIAL GUEST, PEYTON MANNING, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM?
“I don’t know what we have planned. I’m just going to do my thing, what I always do. Hopefully, he has a fun time at the race this weekend. I think he gets to come hang out on the pit box if that is what he wants to do throughout the weekend, throughout the race. I’m excited to have anyone as a guest at the race weekends to see what kind of impact that this sport gives them. It will be interesting more for me to have an opportunity to talk to him afterwards to see what he thought about all that. Especially an athlete and guy like him that has seen so much and has learned so much. It will be interesting his take on our sport. Hopefully, we get the opportunity down the road to talk about it. I’ve had the chance to spend time with him in the past one particular time because of our friendship that we both have with Kenny Chesney we both ran into each other at a concert and got to drink a couple of beers together. That was pretty cool. He is also my teammate with the Nationwide deal and he does a great job as a spokesman. We have had an opportunity to talk on the phone a few times through that relationship which has been pretty special for me. He is well respected with what he has done on the field and I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of people clamoring to get an opportunity to talk to him and speak with him and shake his hand on Sunday when he comes to the race.”
HOW MUCH WILL YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE HEAT RACES KNOWING YOU ARE GOING TO BE RUNNING NEXT WEEKEND IN THE XFINITY SERIES RACE AT RICHMOND?
“I will watch them just like everybody else is going to watch them for the first time. I think everybody is excited to see if anything odd happens or if they bring a new twist to the sport that we aren’t anticipating. I’m looking forward to Saturday and seeing how that goes. As a racecar driver it’s not really an unknown. You just get in there and you go and run the best you can run and try not to wreck. Just the same thing you do in every other race. You try to finish as good as you can. That is what I will do when we run Saturday at Richmond. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t expect a whole lot. Hopefully, they get through there without any damage and we start the main event with the fenders on it and a good opportunity to try to win.”
YOU’VE SEEN A TEAMMATE IN HIS FINAL RACE HAVE A CHANCE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR. YOU ARE GOING TO BE WITH PEYTON MANNING THIS WEEKEND WHO ENDED HIS CAREER IN A MEMORABLE WAY. YOU LIKELY WILL GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHOOSE WHEN YOUR LAST RACE WILL BE. WHAT DOES IT MEAN AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE THAT LASTING IMAGE?
“I think that if you get that memorable moment on that last effort, that last race and whatever it is, if you get that moment it’s a definitely plus. But I don’t think that people, 10 years from now, are going to remember the last game where Kobe (Bryant) put 60 points up. People are going to remember the championships; they are going to compare him to other people that won championships. A lot of guys in boxing, Sugar Ray Leonard I believe lost his last two matches, but nobody remembers that. They think about the championships that he won and the matches he had with (Marvin) Hagler and so forth if you are a boxing fan those are the things you concentrate on when you think about the greats. (Muhammad) Ali didn’t have the best last few fights, but people don’t even really remember that. I don’t know if it’s key, critical that you have that great last race or go out on top. It’s awesome if you can. A lot of guys love it so much that they don’t know how to go out when maybe they should. Or maybe they financially can’t and have to keep competing. Maybe it’s good for them to continue to compete to support their family. I’ve always said I hope I get to make the choice on how I want to end my career and hopefully it’s not decided for me. When that time comes I will handle it how I need to handle it and run as hard as I can run. As long as I’m in good cars I will have a great shot at it. I don’t see how my ability is going to wan and not give me that opportunity that Jeff (Gordon) had. As long as I’m in Hendrick Motorsports equipment until the end of my career I’m going to have a shot at doing well. Hopefully, that is the choice I get to make.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON PIT CREWS HITTING LESS THAN FIVE LUG NUTS? WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON THAT? DO YOU AS A DRIVER EVEN PAY THAT MUCH ATTENTION TO HOW MANY LUGS THEY HAVE ON?
“No, I don’t want to know. It’s freaky man. For me I’m one of the guys who is freaked out by it. I wish I could not care when the wheels are shaking, but you do. I’ve had a few come off and it never ends well. I don’t want any to come off. When we have a loose wheel we lose a lap or a lot of track time. We spend a lot of time trying to get back on the lead lap in these races where we have those loose wheels. It just really delays the ability to run well and can hinder the results of the races. From the seat of the car when I have a loose wheel I get really upset about it. The ones that I’ve had, they tend to continue to shake worse and worse and worse. That tells you that it’s working its way off the car. There is no way to know when that thing is going to come off until it does. I’ve had wheels that I thought weren’t that bad that came off the car. Then I’ve had wheels that shook like crazy that I never would have thought would have made it to the next pit stop. If you have a lot of wheels that are loose in your career there is no real way to understand exactly what you are dealing with when it happens. You don’t know whether they tried to put five on and only got four or they tried to put four on and only got three or if they only got one. You don’t know. It’ freaks me out. I was blown away that NASCAR quit officiating that aspect. I could not believe that was the choice that they made. But that is the world we live in. There are not enough officials today to revert so it’s a knot that can’t be retied. We will just have to try to do the best we can as drivers not to end up in the fence.”
WHAT IS THE ONE QUESTION YOU HAVE YET TO ASK PEYTON MANNING THAT YOU REALLY WOULD LOVE TO ASK AND WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE TO TELL HIM THAT HE HASN’T ASKED YOU YET?
“I don’t know I really haven’t thought that much about it. We are not that good of friends. Shoot… What does he think about the Redskins is a question I would like to ask him, why he didn’t ever play for them. I think the question would be… it would be fun to get five minutes with him after the race weekend to see what he thought about our sport. I’m sure he’s seen it and tuned in and maybe been to a race or two we don’t know about, but this is Bristol. It would be awesome to hear what he thinks about our race at Bristol. I’m very proud of this event and tell people all the time to come get tickets and watch this race and this is where you need to go if you want to get hooked. I’m interested in really what he thinks about our race after we are done here. Maybe I will get the opportunity to get that information from him.”
THIS WEEK BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY IS GOING TO SELL YOUR BANANA AND MAYONNAISE SANDWICHES AND GIVE THE PROCEEDS TO CHARITY. ARE YOU SURPRISED HOW MUCH THIS TOOK OFF AFTER YOU POSTED THAT PHOTO LAST WEEK?
“Yeah, we are still open for donations and DaleJrSandwich.com. We are up to 45,000 dollars from the fans. We got an additional 50,000 from Hellmanns and myself, so that is 145,000 dollars to Blessings in a Backpack. It’s awesome that tracks are participating and anyone donating however they want to donate. That is a great thing. I guess it’s important to say the whole thing was completely organic. I was sitting there bored with a little time on my hands between taking some pictures at a Hellmanns photoshoot and they always have me make this sandwich at the photoshoots. It was laying there it was a prop they were sort of preparing for a picture. I took a picture of it and tweeted it. I had no idea that was going to take off like it did. The thing is like 25 percent of the country knew exactly what I was talking about and the rest were completely disgusted. It got a lot of attention. I think the disgust really is what drove the tweet viral. It had everybody’s attention so I called Mike Davis (JRM PR) and I said it just seems silly to let this fizzle out and not seize this opportunity to do something good. We do these JRM 360’s every week and he is always having a hard time and fussing about not being able to come up with some good ideas. So, we thought we could make one in 24 hours about this sandwich and raise some money for one of the organizations that we work with. We have worked with Blessings in a Backpack for several years now. We are always challenged to try to increase what we are doing in our foundation year after year and find new ways and new initiatives and this was like on a silver platter. Let’s just do this and hopefully it’s going to work. The response from the fans as far as donations has been amazing and also you have things like this where the tracks are doing their own thing and it’s helping people. It’s been an amazing thing. I’m super glad that we have the resources at JR Motorsports to make these things happen. A lot of props to Mike Davis and Kaylan Stamey she runs the foundation. It’s a good thing. It’s something we can be very excited about and very happy about.”
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE A KID BEGGING TO COME TO BRISTOL WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT YOU LOVE? WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF COLOSSUS TV?
“That thing is scary. Hopefully, it don’t come off the cable. We have seen the cables have some issues in the past at some of these tracks. I know the fans will love that. They will really love the opportunity to see the videos there, but there is not a seat in this racetrack. I don’t know that people are going to be taking their eyes off the actual action on the track too much to view the screens.
“As a kid I loved coming here because we would just run from one end of the track to the other getting into whatever we could get into. They used to park the comfort coach conversion vans in the corners. All the drivers would park theirs in the corners and we would just climb up on the back of them and watch practice. You were literally 30 feet from the cars when they were going by. In the race they would crash and roll down the banking feet from the bus. It was just the coolest thing as a kid to be able to be that close to the action and see the drivers in their working and turning the wheel and watch the cars literally work as they go through the corner and how the cars were handling. It was so much fun having that kind of vantage point. This place really provides that to anybody who comes here. The seats here and the vantage point from any seat in the house is good. The action is always constant throughout the race. I enjoy it. Even though the track has changed and we run the top instead of the bottom to me it’s still a very intense experience inside the car. As a fan I would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed it in the past because the race is very intense.”
WHAT KIND OF BEER DOES DALE, JR. DRINK?
“We’ve got some Dale’s Pale Ale. They are a partner at the JR Motorsports race team. Regan (Smith) is going to be racing with them on the car in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a lot of beer in the cooler and I’m not particular. I don’t have a brand that I stick with traditionally, but the Dale’s Pale Ale has been a great partner of ours. They have a lot of different brands in their wheel house. The Pale Ale is new. It’s something I wasn’t drinking for all these years, but I’m acquiring a taste for it.”
ARE YOU GOING TO LET PEYTON MANNING TRY ONE OF THOSE BANANA AND MAYO SANDWICHES WHEN HE COMES HERE SUNDAY?
“Chances are he won’t be too interested in that. But he can donate at DaleJrSandwich.com like all the rest.”
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