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November 15, 2011

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Q. Did you find the secret?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We're still working.

Q. What were some of the things out there you saw the car maybe doing a little bit different in the draft? Anything in particular?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We have tried smaller spoilers at half-inch increments down to a three-inch blade. We have went down a hundred or more pounds in the rear springs, and the cars drive and draft the same. They just go faster.

Q. So that's not the answer?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We haven't found it.

Q. You haven't found the answer?

Q. Anything else you can do before the day is over?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I'm sure there are some creative minds around here. There's all kinds of options and ideas. I still feel positive about finding a solution. I felt like when we came down here, it was going to take more than one day of testing to get there.
This is part of the work. This is part of the work that's got to get done. Whether we find a solution or not today, we know a lot of things about what we learned today. We're better off than we were yesterday.

Q. Does what you saw today make you think it's going to take something out of the box, something radical?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, no, no. The answer is in the past. The answer is in the history of the sport. I've heard people comment that, The tandem drafting was always there, it just took this long for people to figure this out. That's not true. You couldn't tandem draft in 1998 or in 2004. You bump-drafted, but when you went in the corner, you would spin somebody out if you stayed on their bumper.
We have to get to that point, however that is. It's going to be difficult with the surface of the racetrack being as grippy as it is. That's not helping us at all. We got to figure out a way to take a little bit of grip out of the cars where it's back in the drivers' hands and the lead guy doesn't want anybody pushing. That's what you want to do.
I didn't anticipate coming down here and finding the magical solution. I just knew we needed to come down here, put in some work, figure out what we can while we're here. This is an important thing to do. We also get an opportunity to work on our fuel injection. That's all going really well.
Like I said, we'll be better off and smarter than we were before we got here today, and hopefully that helps us and gives us an opportunity going forward with NASCAR and their engineering staff to come up with a solution eventually.

Q. About an hour ago you were running in a three-car group with Joey and Marcos. Two cars were trying to catch you and couldn't. Is that the direction you're trying to go, where a group can outrun a tandem?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't think you'll ever have it to where a group can outrun a tandem. Just the physics of that won't work.
What we want is to make the car become controllable to drive when you're being pushed through the corner. Definitely your going down to the smaller spoiler takes away some rear downforce back in the back of the car. Those are some steps in the right direction. From the looks of it today, that's not the entire answer to it.
There's definitely some other things we need to look at, and we will look at. I'm speaking out of turn because I don't know where NASCAR is today after what we've learned at this point. But I feel positive and confident that what we're doing here is important.

Q. So you expressed you might have some concern about how this went, but at no point today where you uncomfortable in the car?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Not really at all. We've tuned the cars up 10 mile an hour. By themselves I assume they were going about 12 mile an hour faster than what they were when we showed up this morning. That tandem draft we were able to achieve, we're going anywhere from 6 to 10 mile an hour faster and the cars are just as comfortable.
You know, I didn't expect a big difference between 190 to 205. Those are both large numbers. 15 miles an hour, I didn't expect really to shake things up at all, and it didn't. But I feel positive that we're learning things and we're learning what we need to know to try to do whatever NASCAR is trying to achieve.
I'm not exactly sure exactly what they're trying to achieve to the point. I know that they would like to have the pack racing we used to have. I will say, too, that NASCAR and the drivers are all in agreement that there is no way possible to get rid of the tandem drafting. But what we would like to do is make it possible to race without having to tandem draft the entire day, get back to where we're having passing, racing amongst the leaders, guys jostling around, moving in and out of packs and lines, and then at the end if it comes down to a one- or two-lap tandem draft that wins the race, that would be expected by everyone here, NASCAR and the drives as well. The bumpers match up so perfectly. We're so comfortable even at 206 miles an hour getting into the corner that I don't think you'll ever be able to get rid of it, but you can make it to where it's not the norm as much as it is now. We're doing it every single lap to stay in these races at this point. We'd like to get away from that a little bit. Have it as a tool, but not something that's a necessity.

Q. Have it in your playbook?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Right, exactly.

Q. Is it possible that Daytona and Talladega could see a template change on the car?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, I don't think they'll go that far.

Q. Can you talk about the EFI? Learn anything there today?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I haven't. That stuff is way above my head. I know the guys on the computer over there seem to be real happy with what's going on with our cars. They're really smooth.
Ever since I've been testing any of the fuel injection cars with Hendrick, with HMS, they have felt exactly, if not better, than the carburetor engines we've been running. I'm extremely pleased with the efforts.

Q. As we look down the road to Homestead, a two-man championship, who do you like?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I'm pulling for the Chevy, Tony Stewart. I want a Chevrolet to be on top.

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