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Race 2 Win's Q&A with Little E
Part Two

Jan 2000 - 2000 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year candidate and 1998-99 Busch Grand National Champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. took time out of his busy schedule to hold an exclusive question and answer session with the readers of Race 2 Win.

 

It seems lately the big story is.."Should NASCAR allow the fans in the garage areas?" What are your thoughts about this controversy?
Machelle
Newport, PA

It is an ongoing discussion about fans in the garage these days. Some races are better than others I guess. I think that the garage is exactly what it is, a garage. They are not tailor-made for fans to explore. I really have to be honest here. At most places the garages are way overcrowded. The simple job of communicating with a crew chief becomes very difficult. 99% of the fans we have in the garage realize their place and enjoy the time spent there. They keep their proper distance from the teams and the work that's in progress. Then you have that 1% that doesn't realize the potential danger they are in. It is very important that we do our job with as little distraction as possible. I could go into more depth about this. I don't mean to offend anyone. It really isn't that the fans should be barred from entering the garage, but realize there is danger and to respect the area each team is trying to work in.

 

Since aerodynamics plays a key role in a car's performance and can be the deciding factor in winning the championship, as witnessed this year, do you eventually see Nascar going to an IROC design for all WC competitors to use, one make and model for all? Or does Nascar truly like the so-called manufacturer's battle which is in favor of who has the most models running?
Jason Fish
Augusta, Georgia

I don't think Nascar would survive without multiple makes of cars. Yes, the racing may be more enjoyable if we were all in Chevy's, but then I don't think some teams would get the same support from the manufacturer's as others. It's good to have a choice.

 

What race and track are you looking forward to the most; and which the least? What did you feel paint trading in IROC in Michigan last June on the last lap? If a similar event occurs in a points race, will your reaction be about the same? If a different driver decides to bump and run you, will that change your attitude?
J. Gallagher
Nothwood, OH

My favorite track is Daytona, due to it's history. You get a real special feeling when you're there. Least favorite is probably gonna be Sears Point, it looks very difficult to drive. As a fan, I haven't really enjoyed the races I have seen there. As far as rough driver's, as long as they can take what they dish out, I'm OK with it. Flat spinning someone out is not cool, but a little bump or two never hurt anyone.

 

I have read that you are planning on driving to Daytona this year. What has motivated you to drive instead of flying? And, will you be alone? Just curious.....
Jennifer Brown
Lyles, TN

I love flying.....it's just that driving to Daytona is a good way of remembering the times before we had the opportunity to fly. It kinda keeps you humble, plus it's an enjoyable trip. I will be blasting the stereo all the way!!!!

 

Hi Dale, Now that Remington will be a sponsor for you, do you and your Dad plan a visit to Remington Gun Plant in Ilion, New York? We would love to have you stop by for a visit, tour the plant and do some shooting.
Jim Putch
Ilion, NY

Thanks. I'm sure we will be there sooner or later. Remington will be taking us to many plants and places in the future. Will be fun.

 

Will you be making any appearance's at the June race in Dover? Good luck this year!
Jamie Vioral
Pittsburgh, PA

Thanks. I think someone has been living under a rock this past few months. Haha. Yep, running a full Cup schedule including Dover.

 

Will you be at the race expo in Huntsville, Alabama?
Joanna Darmer
Athens, Alabama

I honestly have no idea. At this time, only 10% of my off-track schedule is completed.

 

You have now finished higher than Matt Kenseth twice in the Busch point standings. How much harder are you working and how much harder do you think it will be to finish higher than Matt in Winston Cup for Rookie of the Year?
Sallie
Sandston, VA

Well, Matt will probably be my biggest competition for Rookie of the Year, but he definitely won't be the only one I'm going to be competing against. Either way, it's gonna be hard.

 

Is there a woman in your life to share all your success with or do the rest of us still have a chance?
Kerri
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

I'm a single guy. Some days are better than others. One day I think that single is good, the next day I wish I wasn't. One thing though...... I am always lookin'! ..haha.

 

Does it bother you when your "friends" ask you to do favors for them? Like tickets and such?
Carson
City of Angels

Not really bothersome. They just tell me what race they can attend and I try to get them on the list.

 

Who is your best friend?
Nicole
Little Rock

That's a hard one. I have a lot of people that have been very good to me. I share a house with Terrill Hinson (lead singer of the group, BRIDGE). He cleans up after himself and that's all I ask. We work together trying to stay outta trouble. He's a pretty cool dude and doesn't take advantage of anyone. I met him at one of his concerts a few years back and we've been good pals ever since.

 

I realize that you aren't married with children, (YET) but from your view, is it hard to balance a family and a racing career? Everyone always looks so happy, wives and kids I mean. Isn't it hard for your loved ones to share you with the world?
Melinda
Richmond

I would say that it is difficult at times for my family. Many sacrifices are made. The driver's that I observe do a great job including their family as much as humanly possible.

 

What is your favorite thing to do when you have time off?
Kellie

Spending time on the computer can be really relaxing for me. It clears my head and gives me something else to focus on besides racing.

 

What would your dream vacation be?
Pat
Vestal, N.Y.

Hawaii..... only if they got Budweiser though!

 

Hi Jr.!! First I want to say I'm a huge fan of yours and congrats on winning the BGN championship again and good luck next year in WC!!!! My question is, what are you doing in the offseason with your free time? Also, will you be running IROC again this coming season? Thanks so much!!
Bridget Clemons
Peru, IN

Thanks. I spend a lot of time with my friends...catching up on good times. And yes, I was invited back to IROC again... woooohoooo!!

 

In the little time you have left in the off-season, what will you be doing before Daytona?
Kerri
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Chillin' out!! To chill out as much as I can because after Daytona, it's all uphill from there.

 

Hi Jr.! I'm from Indiana, so I'm wondering if you have or are planning to practice at IMS since the only time you have run there was during the IROC race? Thanks!!
Bridget Clemons
Peru, IN

Hi. I'm not sure. We may test there at a later date in the year, just don't know.

 

I know that you're a musician... Do you ever listen to country music? If so, who are your favorites country artist's?
Bradley Walker
Athens, AL

I enjoy some country music. Dwight Yoakum is my favorite. He has a lot of songs that I can easily relate to.

 

Hi Dale!! I've heard that you play drums, if so, how long have been playing? Did you self-teach or did someone instruct you? P.S. Lots of luck to you and the Budweiser Team!!!
Sharon
Shelby, NC

Hi and thanks. I have fooled around with the drums for about seven years...I taught myself by listening to the radio...it wasn't probably the best way and my playing has not really improved because of it.

 

How old were you when you began learning how to play the drums?
Jennifer Brown
Lyles, TN

I guess I was about 18 years old.....somewhere around then.

 

Are you and your Dad going to work together at Daytona? And if it comes down to the last lap and you're leading, are you going to do whatever it takes to keep your Dad from beating you?
Walt
Aston, Penn

I'm sure that we will always work together, but I would race him as hard as anyone else.

 

Was there ever anything else you really wanted to do as a career or was it always racing for you? What do you see as the biggest challenge or adjustment for you and the team from Busch to Winston Cup?
Daniela
Columbus

I wanted to play football because I enjoyed it as much as racing, but I was too small for football and never gave it a shot. Moving from BGN to Cup is difficult in many ways, but mostly it's adjusting to the way the Cup car drives, that's the hardest thing.

 

Do you have plans on returning to the Busch Series, much like Jeff Gordon has done?
John
South Carolina

For sure!! I love the Busch Series and the competition.

 

Just wondering, how is your Dad doing after his back surgery?
Tom M
NC

He is 100%...... one tough dude!!

 

Do you think you would ever drive for another team other than DEI?
Tracy
Arkansas

Sure..... things rarely stay the same very long. I wouldn't rule it out. My goal is to be at the head of DEI one day, so I should stick around to make that work out.

 

Does your mother have any say in your racing career or is dad the only one?
Judi
Richfield Spgs, NY

She wouldn't be able to change my mind. I know she probably worries about me, but she's also one of my biggest supporters.

 

I was wondering what high school you attended?
Amanda Rabideau
Indianapolis

Mooresville Senior High, from the 9th grade on. Class of '92

 

Dale, in the 1999 season you got a pretty good taste of the Winston Cup scene. Do you think the races you ran last year have helped prepare you for your full ride, to the point where you can be very competitive right at the start of Daytona?
Charles Phillips
Round Lake, IL

I don't think so. It has helped tremendously, but 5 races in 1999 can't compete with the experience most of the other driver's have. I think the first third of the year will give us good data we need to become more competitive.

 

I was wondering about the new 2000 Monte Carlos, are they going to make a difference? Have you driven one and if so, did you like it?
Scott
Ceres, CA

I tested it some and it's a good car. We have a long way to go to get it exactly where it needs to be. I guess that's part of the fun in building a new car. We must work hard to make Chevy proud.

 

Do you like the year 2000 Monte Carlo SS? How does it handle for the track? You're my favorite driver.
Russell
Tonawanda, NY

Thank you. I think the Monte Carlo looks pretty cool. We do have more rear downforce than before, but less front downforce. More and more testing will allow us to improve this.

 

Just curious. Do you ever get the chance to sit down and read your fan mail?
Kelley Leath
Kansas City

Oh yeah....it's alot of fun reading my fan mail. I get some really neat stuff from the fans. Most of them know that I am an Elvis fan so they send me neat stuff.

 

How does it feel to be the Busch champ two years in a row and then move to Winston Cup with a great sponsor? Thanks for taking time to read this (if you actually do) and HAVE A GR8 season in 2000!
Kim Stobb
Waupun, Wisconsin

(I actually do read them) It's overwhelming everytime I think about all that's happened. It's quite possible that the best two years of my career are now behind me, hope not though. With the help of Budweiser, we should have no trouble seeing some of the same in Winston Cup.

 

If your Dad hadn't been a stock car driver, but instead an ordinary middle-class typical kinda guy, where do you think your life would be right now? What would DaleJr., doing then?
Tim Green
Springboro

Working in a dealership on cars somewhere. I did that for about three years before I started driving in BGN.

 

Hi Dale. Congratulations on another championship season! This year you won and were awarded close to two million dollars. How is the money distributed between you, your crew, and your Dad?
Laura Budreau
Hubbard Lake, Michigan

Thanks. You're right, the money is distributed around. The majority of it is put back into the company. This will pay dividends in years to come.

 

When you were younger, before you started racing, did you work for your Dad in the shop? What did your tasks involve? How long from start to finish does it take to build a car that would race on the track?
Michael Sparks
Mansfield, OH

I went straight out of school to working in a car dealership service department. I then worked on my sister's race cars until I started driving Busch. My guys can complete a car in less than three weeks.

 

Hey Dale. I've heard you and Hank Parker Jr., a Nascar3 simulation to tune your skills at some tracks. Is this true and does it really work?
Bryan Cook

Hey. Yeah, we do and it has been a huge help to me. It taught me a lot of patience that would take years to learn on the track.

 

Was it hard for you to start racing when everyone expected so much from you because of your Dad?
Kimie O
Warren, MI

Yeah it was hard. I was in no hurry to move up from BGN to Cup. I knew I didn't want to fail, so I waited for what seemed to be the best opportunity.

 

I gave you a CD at the opening of Sterling Marlin's car dealership. My question is, did it make it home with you and did you like it? Congratulations on your championship and good luck in 2000.
Lisa Kugler
Union Grove, AL

Thanks. Yep, it made it home with me. It reminded me of Edie Brekel (not sure of the spelling), although it wasn't the style of music I mostly enjoy. I do think she did a great job with the song and I'm sure others would enjoy it too.

 

  • Q&A with Little E - Part One
  • Q&A with Little E - Part Three
  • Q&A with Little E - Part Four

     

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