Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dale Jr. Meets the Media at Daytona Testing (2)

Interview Part 2 of 8

Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed the departure of Steve Letarte as crew chief in 2015, his outlook for the 2014 season and other topics.

NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Testing at Daytona
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Testing at Daytona

Question: Obviously with Steve (Letarte) just leaving, can you talk about your thoughts, and how long have you known, and what you think about the situation?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Yeah, it's definitely a unique situation. He actually included me in on the discussion before the end of last year, and I had a pretty good understanding, whether he knew or not, what he was going to do. I had a pretty good understanding what his decision was going to be when I left Homestead.

So I've had time to really wrap my brain around it. It was hard because we are such good friends, and I really do enjoy working with him a lot. But at the same time I'm happy for him because it gives him the opportunity to spend time with his family. It's something that's really important to him, and the way these races are broadcast and how they're presented to the fans is a big part of how the sport remains healthy, and I think that he's going to be incredible in that role. I think that he'll I think that he'll be really good.

I'm excited for him because I know he's really looking forward to it. You can tell when he talks about it how genuinely enthused he is about the opportunity.

And at the same time, you know, I'm not worried about this season and how focused we may be. I know that he's really good at separating things and keeping things compartmentalized, as Jeff Gordon likes to say about Steve.

I know that we're going to be fine as far as how we'll compete this year and how dedicated and how we might move through the process of the season. I expect us to do nothing less than improve on what we've been doing and steadily keep moving toward our goals.

But it's definitely going to be emotional and difficult at times, just because we really enjoy working together. But I'm excited about the year. I'm excited about our chances as a team. We've got a great group of guys. Steve is a great crew chief that's going to get us a good opportunity to try to win some races.

And I think that the team, just based on the personalities and how well we all get along and mesh and how much fun we really had last year, I think that everybody can buckle down and do their jobs, and I think we can do well.

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