DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – Pole Winner involved in accident, will go to back-up car and start at the rear of the field in both the Gatorade Duel Qualifying Race and the Daytona 500:
NOTE: The No. 88 team just unloaded Chassis 88-576. Jeff Gordon last raced this chassis at Talladega in October to an eighth-place finish. The Budweiser Shootout car will now be the backup. Previously a brand-new chassis, it’s currently back at Hendrick Motorsports in the paint booth about to make its way back to Daytona. Chassis 88-576 has been refurbished to meet the nose and other 2011 requirements but hadn’t been tested this season.
WE WERE REALLY IMPRESSED BY THE WAY YOUR CREW CHIEF, STEVE LETARTE, AFTER THE FACT WAS VERY ENCOURAGING AND TOLD YOU NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT, AND THAT THE TEAM WOULD JUST GET THE BACK-UP READY
“Well, yeah. That’s his job as a crew chief. I just really don’t know what was going on there. The guys on the inside looked like they were going to stay low and then they started kind of creeping up and giving Jimmie (Johnson), and they gave me the impression they were going to be closing the hole on the outside. So Jimmie lifted. And he about wrecked and I got off the gas and there were a couple of guys coming behind me (Martin) Truex, and a couple other guys and just didn’t have a chance.
“You got to pay attention out there, man. I mean if you’re going to come out here and race, you need to pay attention.”
YOU TALKED THE OTHER DAY AFTER YOU WON THE POLE POSITION AND SAID YEAH, THAT’S GOOD BUT IT’S JUST KIND OF A BABY STEP. SO THIS IS JUST GOING TO MAKE YOUR JOB A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT. WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN NOW AND THE 150’S TOMORROW?
“Well, we’ve got plenty of race cars. And I ain’t worried about how fast we’ll be or whether we’ll be as good. We’ll be fine. But you know, it never feels good tearing them up. I’m just disappointed in myself. I didn’t feel good about getting out there and practicing and didn’t think I needed to be out there practicing. I just had a bad feeling about it. And we come running up on some guys that didn’t have their heads on straight and got in an accident.”
WE SAW YOU AND MARTIN TRUEX JR. PATTING EACH OTHER ON THE BACK AND TALKING. WHAT DID MARTIN SAY TO YOU?
“That he was sorry for running into the back of me. And he didn’t have anywhere to go; and I’m sure he didn’t. We were all off the gas pretty hard right there for those guys to pull up the race track there. I don’t even know if we would have room. We might have had room on the outside to get through, but it was real tight. They moved up off the bottom into the middle of the race track at least, from what I could tell and what I can remember, and just give us the impression we were going to need to check-up. They keep slowing the cars down and it makes a car drafting normally much slower, and now the closing rate on the two-car pack is even faster; and I mean it’s just hard. It’s just real hard. Hopefully there’s no more accidents this rest of the week. We can all; we’re all kind of getting the hang of it, but the guys that aren’t, in a two-car pack, need to be aware that those guys are going to come flying up on them faster than they think. And you’ve just got to keep that in mind and hold your line.”
WHAT HAPPENED? "We were coming around the corner and there were three guys on the inside and they moved up off the bottom and me and Jimmie (Johnson) had to checkup and I got hit from behind there."
IS IT REALLY HARD TO SEE? IT LOOKED DIFFICULT OUT THERE: "That is just restrictor plate, we see wrecks here all the time. It wasn't anything different than anything we've seen in the past. Out there practicing; not everybody on the same page."
WERE YOU SPEWING WATER OUT BEFORE THE CRASH? "It was after. We were all overheating. 220 degress is what we usually run, the temperature was fine. We were actually testing to see when that pressure valve went off. We were probably about a lap or so from being done."
WHAT IS THE BACKUP CAR YOU WILL USE NOW? "The backup car is fine, just as good as the other ones. They are all kit cars any ways. The bodies are all the same. Good motors. We'll have plenty of speed, but we have this car; the third car, the fourth car is just as good. I mean, they are all good."
ARE YOU FRUSTRATED? "Just getting caught up in wrecks. Just feeling a little snake-bit right now, because, I don't feel like I was really at fault in any of them but we just keep getting in them."
WAS THE AIR MOVED OFF OF YOUR CAR BECAUSE OF IT? "No. They just moved up in front of us and we lifted and the guys behind us didn't know what was going on. That is all that happened."
YOU SAID YOU WERE NERVOUS ABOUT PRACTICE, WHY? "Well we have the pole sitting race car, don't need to practice."
ANY MORE REASON THAT THAT? "Well, I hadn't been out there, we hadn't practiced together, so no. I don't know who is paying attention and who ain't. I had a fast car and didn't want to practice it."
WHAT IS YOUR EMOTION RIGHT NOW? "Get the next one ready."
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