Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dale Jr. Meets the Media at Daytona Testing (6)

Interview Part 6 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: You said you were happy for Steve. As much as you were, with the momentum that you guys were apparently coming into the season with, was it tough just to think, oh, man, why now?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not really. I had a lesson back when I raced late models, I was working with Gary Hargett, and Gary Hargett and I worked together in '94, '95, and he became kind of like a grandfather to me, really, really, really close relationship. I spent a lot of time with him throughout the week and throughout the weekend, and when we went to the racetrack we went together. It was just a great relationship.

And there was a day where I had an opportunity to move my cars from his shop in Union County up to my shop to be able to work on them. It was an hour drive. And at that time I was working at the dealership in Newton, and then I would drive to Gary's at the South Carolina line and work on my car on Wednesday nights and then I'd drive back down on Fridays and go racing at Florence and Myrtle Beach on Friday and Saturdays, and it was a lot of driving around.

My father said, all right, we're going to bring your cars up here and I'll give you some space to work on them and you can keep them up here and learn how to build these cars and fix them, and I was just missing out on that experience being able to work on my own cars and understand them.

But I had to take it away from Gary, and I wanted him to come up to the shop and work, and he didn't want to drive an hour up there to work, so he decided he wasn't going to do that, so he had to split up. I was taking the cars and moving the cars up to Mooresville because that was what was good for me and my career, but I was going to have to do it without Gary.

And that was a real, real difficult choice to make. That was just a lesson I learned early, that things in the sport, no matter how great they are and how much you enjoy them, aren't always going to stay the same. This is just another situation where that's come true.

No comments: