Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, talked about finishing third in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: “Yeah, I'm real happy with our finish. We worked really hard all day, all weekend; really we worked hard to obviously get the best finish we could. This is our first race with AMP on the hood, and we are proud to have a good finish for those guys. (We) had a lot of people here this weekend.
“Really, the race, the car was good on the long runs. Obviously (we) drove up there and passed Jeff for the lead and at the end of the race, (we) drove back into the top three there, and so the car was really good on the long runs. We didn't have short run speed. We didn't have enough to run with a lot of people in the first 20 laps.
“But after lap 45 or so, I thought our car was great; really comfortable and doing everything I wanted it to do. Really, really fun race. This is a fun racetrack. I was really happy with how the race was playing out there until the end. We totaled both sides off my car at the end of the race. (The damage) felt unnecessary to me, but that's the way it happened.”
QUESTION: What's your take on the 10 car? It seemed like about five laps out there, he was going about five miles an hour, and finally came to a stop. You guys were running 1, 2, 3 for Hendrick (Motorsports) at the time. What are your thoughts on just all that happened there with that and how that brought out the last yellow?
DEJ: “Well, I would like an explanation on why that happened, from him, his crew chief, somebody. It doesn't seem like there could be a logical reason for him to end up stopped on the track.
“He was running around slow; you got a problem, you really get down and get on pit road. I don't believe he had any trouble getting down. When we went by him the first time, he was low. I would like to hear a good excuse to be honest with you because I'm sure it would be laughable.”
Q: Talk about the first green-white-checkered restart, what did you see on the inside line with Newman and Bowyer get going that kind of caused the chain reaction that led to the way the race finished?
DEJ: “Now that I think about it, the leaders had more than a hundred laps on their tires, and the guys behind them had new tires at least on one side of the car. And we all took off and ran in the back of the leaders, all of us.
“So Clint went to the inside, and that was his prerogative, man. He was going for the win and I thought it was a good move. Just not enough room for all three of them down there in that corner and everybody got together.”
Q: Obviously Hendrick (Motorsports) going for win No. 200 today, I think you guys were one two, three up until the final caution. So did David Reutimann pretty much just cost you guys the big day? And can you talk about the disappointment for you, Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson) not getting 200?
DEJ: “Disappointing for everybody to run as good as we did today and not finish up there. I know Jeff is especially disappointed because of the way his year's been going. And I've got a real good idea of what his opinion is about that.
“You know, Jimmie is trying to climb back into it, and they had the winning cars all day; both of them. You know, I expressed my opinion about the finish there and the guys stopping on the track. And I don't think I want to talk about it too much. I don't want to say more until I get an explanation from them or read one somewhere. Maybe you guys can track one down.”
Q: For the last year, I've been watching Hendrick a lot and paying attention to things as a team and I noticed this year you guys have changed differently. Can you just tell me what, if anything, has changed? Are you guys bonding differently or better?
DEJ: “I don't know what we have done and our team has done really and I'm happy with the way our car is running.
“I can't believe the 5 and the 24, they have been fast. The 5, sitting on the pole and he has been fast everywhere. He was killer fast at Phoenix. The 24 has been lightning fast at a lot of places. Jimmie is always quick everywhere. So they have just had really bad luck.
“I think we are. I think we actually have more speed as a group, as a whole, than we did last year.”
Q: For the last two weeks, we've been hearing how fans want to see more beating and banging and craziness out there. Do you think this is what they meant?
DEJ: “No, I think green-white-checkered finishes, they are okay. But the way this one happened, I'm really okay with the way the racing was at the end of the race. That was fine with me. Clint going for the win, we all get down there and wadded up; that was racing to me. That's okay.
“I just don't like how the caution came out. So, you know, I don't have a problem with the green-white-checkers. My opinion of them is they are kind of positive.”