Matt Kenseth said after the race that he considers your team probably like the favorite to win the championship, and I know you got a lot of congratulations on the way to victory lane from other drivers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both came and congratulated you. What does it mean to have your peers happy for you, and also talking about you as a title contender?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: I guess it means I'm an all-right dude. (Laughter) When people are happy for you, they want to see you do good. That's the way I feel about people; I want to see good people do good things, and I want to see people that I think are good people have success and be happy.
I feel like we are getting stronger. One of the things that we did last year throughout the season was kind of maintain, and even though I was happy as hell to be with Steve and be able to run well and be competitive, I was a little disheartened that I didn't progress through the year, really. I didn't find more speed as the year went on. We just kind of stayed the same throughout the season, and maybe Steve looks at it a little different than I do; we don't talk about it that much.
This year, we have gotten faster throughout the year. We started off pretty quick and we have gotten quicker, and quicker, especially these last couple weeks. So that's been a thrill for me.
I don't know really where we stand in the competition level and what-have-you, where we are as far as being a threat to win the title. I think that's a great compliment from Matt. But we just kind of kept our nose to the grindstone to try to win a race. We'll just try to keep doing that and win the next race and see what happens.
Looking back four years ago, what was that like to win four years ago to the day? What do you remember from that day? And is it the same feeling as you have today?
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Unfortunately, it was. I was so nervous in the last few laps of that race four years ago, and today, that's the worst feeling, riding around there with 15 laps to go wondering what's going to happen or how you were going to lose.
I was just thinking, “Man, those laps could not go by fast enough.” I was like, “I've got a big lead, I'm going to take it easy – no, I want to run it hard, get it over with. So I was just in there going crazy, thinking, and I'm looking all around the racetrack hoping there's no debris around the next corner. I just knew I was going to come around the next corner and see a piece of metal lying in the racetrack. I was just waiting on something to happen. So that was terrifying, to be honest with you.
I kept thinking about Steve and the team and how hard we have worked and how we deserved to win, and how we should win, and was hoping it would happen for everybody. But, that race four years ago was a fuel mileage race, and today we just whooped them really good. So that felt good.
Not to take anything away from your win, but what does the guy next to you (Letarte) mean to you? It just seems since the two of you – and I know you guys are both really humble, but the turnaround since the two of you have gotten together, it's just really clicked.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: It has. We have been doing some great things. He's hard to compliment, because he doesn't take it very well. But him and that team, they can have all the credit – my engineers and Steve sit in that lounge every weekend and make the car go. You know, they make it turn. They make it whatever I want it to do. If I ask them, you know, this is my problem and this is where we are hurting, they get together and they fix it.
During the race, just like today, every week, we start the race, and all right, we are going to have a few issues, these are the issues and Steve fixes them. He gets with his engineers and they make it better.
Especially today, that car, it wouldn't have mattered who was driving it today. That car was going to be the fastest thing out there and going to win the race. That car deserves all the credit, so the guys that put it together deserve all the credit.
Steve is just really sharp. He called a great race. I trust in him to do that every week, and I know he will. You know, I just trust that he's looking out for – not for the best interests of just me. He looks out for the entire team and puts great people around himself to be able to do the job right. We have a good group.
Today really solidifies and justifies our efforts and we can move forward to try to do more, do more good things. I think this is really great for everybody. But Steve – when you go to the shop and watch him kind of work, and you can see how this team is as good as it is just by being in the shop and watching him sort of dictate and move pieces around like on a chessboard.