Dale Earnhardt Jr. met the NASCAR media ahead of this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway to discuss yesterday's announcement that Danica Patrick would be running the full Nationwide Series schedule for his JR Motorsports team next year.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE DECISION THAT DANICA PATRICK MADE?
“I think it's a good decision, man. We're looking forward to it. Hopefully she enjoys it and has a good time with it. We're going to try to put together good racecars and see if we can't win some races.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI SAID ON TWITTER THAT IF SHE DOESN'T MAKE IT, IT'S GOING TO BE A LONG TIME BEFORE ANOTHER WOMAN GETS A CHANCE, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
“You never know, man. People get opportunities in this sport many different ways. I don't necessarily agree with that. I think that she has shown to be a tough racer and a marketing machine. She is really savvy and I think she just opened the door myself, to a lot more opportunities for other women, regardless of whether she measures up to everybody's expectations or not.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HER POSSIBLY RUNNING THE INDY 500?
“Whatever she wants to do. She can do whatever she wants to do, it doesn't matter to me. If I had any experience in those cars, I might know a little bit more about the answer. But, whatever she feels like she wants to do, she ought to do it.”
DO YOU WORRY THAT IF SHE DOES DO IT, IT WILL BE A DISTRACTION?
“They don't run the same day as the Nationwide Series, I don't think so.”
DID SHE TALK TO YOU BEFORE THE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE THIS WEEK?
“No, not really. Her and Kelley [Earnhardt] basically hashed the whole deal out and I really didn't have to get involved in it. It was pretty easy on my end.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE TONY EURY JR. CREW WITH DANICA IN THE CUP SERIES NEXT YEAR?
“I think they'll figure that all out. I don't have an opinion one way or another. If she likes working with Tony Jr., then she'll express that and that could be probably worked out. And, if Tony Jr. wants to do that, that's up to him. It's not up to me. I don't have an opinion one way or another. I just kinda want to help her at the Nationwide level where JR Motorsports is located. Try to give her the best experience we can and help her learn as fast as she wants to learn to help her. She's made a choice and we want to try and help her get her deal started.”
DO YOU CARE WHEN SHE MAKES HER CUP DEBUT?
SO IF SHE DOES IT AT THE DAYTONA 500, THAT'S FINE?
“Yes. I don't have an opinion of what I think is best for her on that end. I think she is old enough and been racing long enough to make good choices and whatever choice she makes will be a good one. I think Daytona would be a tough deal to turn down. It's obviously probably the biggest race of the season. It's the best opportunity to secure sponsorship dollars at that level. I'm sure that will be something that they look at.
"We are just focusing on how we can help her in the Nationwide Series and if she has some questions or wants some advice…she doesn't really ask me for advice much. She seems to have found the people she seems to trust and those people that help guide. If she needs to seek out more advice, she'll do it. I don't really deal in hypotheticals too well but I'm sure that whatever happens will be good. Whatever happens is going to be good for everybody.”
DO YOU FEEL SHE FACES A LOT OF UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS?
“Well, she's faced them already. She faces a lot of tough criticism and she does a good job of handling it. I think she does a good job of keeping a good attitude, not letting that kind of stuff change the person you are. She knows what she is here to do. She loves to drive racecars and she wants to enjoy doing that and try to be the best she can at that. She keeps a real good attitude about it. Doesn't let some of the harsh criticism get her down or anything.”