Media Day: They’re Talking Racing
They won’t be racin’ until Saturday but on Thursday, they were talkin’. It’s Media Day at Daytona and that means the top drivers will be dispensing information – or not – from early in the morning until early in the evening. RacinToday will keep track of the top drivers’ top quotes and update them in this story throughout the day.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
On how he thinks things will go for Danica Patrick: I don’t know. I don’t even know how she done today. I only talked to Danica once in the last six months. She’s working with Kelly and Tony, Jr. Those are the people that are going to be in contact with her. She don’t need too many people in her ear talking to her, giving her too much crap to think about. She’s been around racing a long time. I think she’s smart enough to know what she’s gotten herself involved in. And she doesn’t need everybody trying to tell her what’s good for her, you know, that kind of stuff. Annoys the shit out of me when I got six, seven people trying to tell me what is the right thing to do, what the next move is to make.
More on Patrick: You know, she seems to be pretty smart. So I try not to really get in her ear too much. I just hope we give her a good car and when she mashes the gas it puts a smile on her face. As long as she’s having fun out on the racetrack, I’ll enjoy that part of it.
On if he thinks he could be a distraction for Patrick:
I don’t mind talking about Danica. I know we do have some vested interest in the races that she’ll be involved in. Everybody wants to know whether she’s going to run in the Nationwide race, all that stuff. I don’t mind talking about all those things. I know it’s a responsibility of mine, being an owner of the company. I don’t want to personally be physically active in all of it just ’cause I got a lot going on myself. Like Tony, Jr., he can handle it. You know, I got the right people in the right places to make sure it goes as good as it possibly can go.
On his thoughts about Patrick racing in the Nationwide race at DIS: Yeah, and there’s a part of me that hopes that Kelly (Bires) gets to drive. There’s a part of me that obviously hopes Danica does so good in this ARCA race that we would want to put her in a car, too. But Kelly, you know, we’re in a tough situation financially. To bring a car down here and run without a sponsor is about $150,000 at the cheapest. We can’t afford that. I’m gonna run Kelly in a lot of races we don’t have sponsors because we don’t have a full season yet on the 88, but we can’t afford to have three teams here. We don’t have that many people. It basically came down to trying to make the best of the situation. That’s what we’re going to try to do.
On the ARCA race being crashfest: I recently heard that… and I didn’t know that. Now I do. I think it just makes me realize I need to be smart out there. I’ve heard that everybody runs the yellow line all the way around the whole race and you stay in line and wait for something to happen at the end. I realized it was hard to pass at the test and maybe that’s why it’s a crashfest. Also, you run so much closer in these cars than in IndyCar.
On expectations in race: I would like to do better than just finish but I don’t know how it’s going to go and these guys out here have done it for a long time. I don’t think I can put a number on it. I never do that.
On Nationwide and the decison to race in the one at DIS: It’s going to be a lot of the feeling. I think at end of day it would be nice to have a good result but it’s probably going to be more off the feeling I have and how few the mistakes I made and how comfortable I was with the different situations. I think we will announce whether I will do it or not on Monday.
On people cheering against her: I’ve felt that before. I try to look at myself, look at my team and where we’re all at and I don’t let other people’s opinions affect the way I feel. On being having an edgy personality: There are a few people here who have seen me at an IndyCar race quite a few times and maybe they need to be interviewed after this. I have never been afraid to be honest. I have perhaps become more gracious over the last year or two on how that comes out but I will always be me, I will always be emotion and I will always have somewhat of a temper. And that’s because I care. It means everything to me. When the racing is going well, nothing else matters.
Juan Pablo Montoya
On competing for wins: It’s not so much about the trophy or anything, it’s more about just whipping everybody’s asses, to be honest.
On Danica Patrick’s reception: In her shoes and mine from where I came from, I think more people want you to fail than to do good. It’s not because they are bad people, but it will be better news if you fail than if you do well.
On Danica Patrick’s chances for success: If she needs some help, she can come over and ask questions. I think to start with, she is going to struggle. It’s going to be hard until it clicks. Once it clicks and you understand what you got to do to go fast, then you go ahhh.
On open-wheel transition: The feeling is so different. In IndyCars, that thing starts stepping out, you’re going to hit the fence. Here, if it starts stepping out and you’re still not loose enough.
On Jimmie Johnson: You look at their performance from through the year, it’s average, it’s good. They’re winning races and stuff but their not dominating. For some reason they get to the Chase and it just clicks. It’s hard to beat when the guy just wins every freaking week. On NASCAR: They care about the races and they make changes.
On NASCAR’s decision to let drivers “have at it”: It’s up for interpretation, that’s for sure. I really haven’t spent that much time trying to understand what they mean by it. Really, the only relevant part to me is how the other drivers react to it. I don’t plan on doing anything differently myself, but the only way to truly know how other drivers react is to wait and see.
On coming back to Earnhardt-Ganassi: I already know everybody. The toughest part when you change organizations, is to go in and I like to talk to people and get to know them. The guys who work at the shop do all the work. It very important for the driver to talk with them and let them feel like they are a part of the team.
On new teammate Juan Pablo Montoya: I’ve actually made pretty good friends with Juan. He has a lot different personality than what I expected. When you him on TV its very stern. You don’t see the humorous side of him, the more personal side of him. When you’re along, he’ll let his guard down a little bit.
On season: I’m pumped up. To know we going into the full season, fully funded, all the races, it’s an exciting time. To be in the famed, historic 43, I know this is my best opportunity to go out and show what I can do.
On being comfortable with new bumping rules: I’m more comfortable. I may be a little more nervous with some of the other people that I’m gonna be racing with – they don’t maybe quite know what the limit is – and, let’s face it, as a race car driver, we test the limit every lap, whether we’re at California or Vegas. We drive down in the corner as fast as we can until the car slides. It’s loose or it’s tight and then we come in and work on it, so we’re technically testing the limit every lap. But when you talk about testing the limit at a restrictor plate track, that’s different. Testing the limit becomes, ‘How much can you push that guy in front of you?’ And the limit becomes when he takes off upside-down. That’s the limit. There’s gonna be more action, which, because people are gonna be testing that limit and pushing more, so it’s gonna be a little bit more aggressive and a little bit more action, and, inevitably, maybe another accident or two along the way.
On self-policing by drivers: Like I said, it’s going to work because the self-police part is until that guy in front of you spins out or somebody causes a wreck because that’s the police point. The idea is to push the guy in front of you, or guys in front of you, or go as fast as you can go until something happens. That’s what racing is about.”
On catching Jimmie Johnson: We haven’t seen for certain that Jimmie is the target. They have been the last four years but we’re focused on our program and trying to make it stronger than ever and that is what we are going to focus on.
On Johnson’s domination being good or bad for sport: I don’t think it’s necessarily hurt it. There are some things that could be more exciting, but its also pretty darn exciting to be a part and live a huge part of history and be right in the middle of it experience it. In some ways it could be more exciting if it was mixed up a bit.
On bumping rules creating chaos: I’ve seen it all. I’m not concerned about seeing something I haven’t seen before. From that standpoint, I’m not really concerned. We will have our run-ins from time to time. We’ll just se
On sponsor money tempering driver personalities: Some it does and some it doesn’t. Some people have big money sponsors and they still show their backsides. And they don’t lose them. Then there are some who, for all kinds of reasons, don’t want to do that. It matters to them a lot that they disappoint their owners, or disappoint their sponsors, disappoint their backers.
On fans wanting to go back to the good old days: They need to find a time machine then. Go back to 1975 because it ain’t ever going to be ’75 again unless they find that time machine. Things change. You guys was doing your atories on a typewriter. The new age is here and that’s, you got to fact it. The new age is here in everything. Today is an evolution of that. Yeah, there was some things about old school that was really cool, but it can’t be completely like that. You can have a little bit about that. Life has changed. And racing has changed.
On whether he can feel more power in new Ford engine: When I got into that car I was hoping because I’ve been saying it for years that I felt we were behind, and I was really hoping that I would be able to feel it and, no kidding, before I was in fourth gear I could already feel it, and then when I got to speed I could feel it as well. It was pretty neat. I was pretty excited just to know that it’s better because anytime you make gains it helps, so I feel like we made a gain.”
On hosting pro wrestling: It’s going be great to host Monday Night Raw. That’ll be a blast. I saw Kyle (Busch) and Joey (Logano) a little bit about it. He said it was a lot of fun and he just said to go have fun with it. It’ll be cool to be able to kind of talk to all of those fans about the upcoming Daytona 500. That’s really what it’s all about, getting the word out that we’ve got an exciting race coming up.
On pointers from Logano and Busch: Joey is pretty tall. He’s 6’2” or 6’3” and he said, ‘Man, those guys are huge.’ He said it’s just a lot of fun. It’s amazing the list of people that have done that and it’s just cool to be on that list. John Cena and I got to work together on a Gillette commercial and he’s a really nice guy. He comes to the races. He’s a huge racing fan. Ric Flair is a huge race fan, so it’s just cool to be able to go out and see how they do their busines
On what his team will let him do: Yeah, if I can hurt myself playing Frisbee, I’m sure off the top rope I could do something really bad. We’ll have fun with it, though. We’ll see what happens. I’ve never been in a ring like that, so it’ll be kind of neat to do.”
On if he intends to run his car in all 36 races: The 7 car will run every race, but I might not be in it. We’ve got some big stuff coming up next week that we’re going to talk about. We’ve got a lot of good stuff on our plate. I’d rather be in this position than the other position wondering what I’m going to do. I think we’re just going to end up having more stuff than I can actually fit in in a single season.
On running two cars with his team and BAM Racing: That is yet to be determined on how many races we will run two. Right now, we’re in a ramp up time. Daytona was hard on us. I didn’t want to come to Daytona with two race teams and backup cars that we could roll out of the trailer and maybe in a few hours get them bolted together. We came here with four race cars finished. Hit the button, they’ll start up and hit the race track. We’ve made this mistake before and to not carry good capable backup cars on the trailer drives me crazy. So, I wasn’t going to take on the project unless we could actually put four cars in the trailer and hit the race track here at Daytona. Obviously, we picked the two that we feel are the best two cars. The best two cars might be in the trailer but I hope they don’t get out of the trailer. At the same time, though, they’re finished. And when I mean they’re finished, contingency decals, drivers sat in both of them – I’ve been in my car. David Gilliland has been in his car. He’s driven it around the parking lot at the shop. All of the cars have been on the chassis dyno. All the seat belts are set. Rearview mirrors are done. Literally it’s as fast as NASCAR will allow us to hit the track which is probably 15 minutes and we could have our backup cars on the track as well. That was really our goal. Like I said, we’ve kind of been silent all winter long. Nobody really knows what we’ve been doing except for the Dakar program and the NASCAR team hasn’t got a lot of attention. And I’m fine with that. I think the most important thing is we come down here and we’re fast.”