Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with the media ahead of this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover, answering questions about his views on concrete tracks (negative), his recent NASCAR Sprint Cup races and penalties (really negative) and other drivers' verbal sparring (positive) and more.
Do the seams in a concrete track affect you on the track?
“The concrete is a little bit chalky and dusty when you get on it early in the weekend. Our hot tires pick the rubber back up off the concrete, more so than the asphalt. Of course, you never know – asphalt being as dark as it is, it's hard to tell. It is just not a real good racetrack surface, in my opinion. It lasts a long long time but it gets rough. It's just not the preferred surface for building a racetrack. They [seams or joints] don't mess you up, they just become annoying and rough. The concrete gets real rough as it cures over time.”
Do you have a sense that you know what you need to be good here?
“No, not really.”
How important is a good run here in your mind to rebound from Richmond and Darlington?
“It upsets you. As soon as Richmond was over, I couldn't wait to get to the racetrack and do something good to rebound from what happened there. We just sort of didn't do that. Just made another mistake and cost ourselves…we've cost ourselves about 20 points in the last several weeks. That is kind of frustrating but you try to put that behind you. Try not to let it affect you to where you keep making mistakes.”
Do you think it is strange that your commitment cone violation was under green flag conditions?
“I had a friend of mine bring it up to me. He asked what the commitment cone is for under green flag racing anyways? You are pretty much committed when you started to slow down to come to pit road. It is not really necessary. Which I kind of thought about that and I'm like, ‘Yeah, that is pretty true, it's really not necessary.' But, that is the way the rules are. I asked Mike Helton about and he said that they were keeping the rules consistent whether under green or yellow and they just figured they would leave it out there even though it's really more important under caution.
Hopefully, maybe they will look at it down the road, because it's pretty much unnecessary under green flag. You're going to either come down pit road or you are not. If you get in there too hot and you speed, you get penalized for speeding. If you miss the entrance, you miss the entrance – that is costly. There is no real reason for a commitment cone at that point. You need it under yellow flag. I didn't even think about that until a friend of mine brought that up. I just asked him (Helton) about that rule and whether it was truly necessary to have that cone out there under green flag.”
When drivers have verbal exchanges, do other drivers pay attention to that?
“I don't think so. You have so much to concentrate on with your own deal. You hear about most of the stuff going on through second hand. I just focus on what I'm trying to do; what my job is. Those kinds of story lines are for the fans. Let the fans enjoy it and let the fans think about it what they want. The rest of us are in here thinking about the race weekend; what we are trying to do during the race.”
Is this good for NASCAR?
“It's not bad.”