Following his victory in Sunday night’s Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr. floated into the speedway’s media center around midnight grinning like a Cheshire cat. He shouted out a huge cry of joy that pretty much stopped all the quiet work of the reporters gathered there.
“Bet that doesn’t happen too much in here does it,” Earnhardt questioned.
On Wednesday’s conference call with members of the NASCAR media family Junior sincerely expressed how much he enjoyed the call. Quite a difference from many drivers who just view those calls as another media obligation.
You could feel the emotion in Earnhardt’s voice. Instantly you know why this man is NASCAD’s most popular driver year after year.
The Daytona 500 trophy is the biggest prize in motorsports. And when Dale Earnhardt Jr claimed it then it became that much bigger.
Not long after the race Dale Earnhardt Jr made good on a promise to Michael Waltrip by sending out his first tweet. The deal was that if Junior won the 500 he would join Twitter. Here’s what he had to say.
“I just started using my Twitter handle that I’ve had for several years. Haven’t had a chance to follow anybody yet,” Junior said.
At the time Earnhardt had 213,000 followers on the social media site despite having never made the first tweet. At last count he was up to 528,000.
Earnhardt was still bubbling with enthusiasm when he appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday night.
A driver who is consistently finishing races in the top 5 is bound to win sooner or later. The same goes for Dale Jr who with his win Sunday has finished either first or second in 4 of the past 5 Daytona 500s.
When one reporter asked him about the intensity level of the Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr had this to say:
“I could feel it. It was electric, man. I don’t know what the hell was going on or why it was like that. I wish I knew because that’s what NASCAR wants to bottle and sell.
It felt so different than any other race I’d ever been in, any other Daytona 500 I’d been in for sure. The intensity level was at a max. Races usually have a lull in the middle, don’t get going till the end when it’s time to put money on the line, people start picking up the intensity. We sustained it from the time we started, restarted, all the way to the end. I couldn’t believe it.
I think people were enjoying themselves. I think everybody was having fun with each other, putting each other in difficult situations, bringing out the best in each other. There was really something special going on.
I know everybody thinks it’s the greatest race they ever saw because Dale Jr. won it. Taking that out of the equation, I think it really was an exciting race and one of the most exciting Daytona 500s I’ve ever been in and one of the most intense races I’ve ever been in.
The drivers were really feeding off each other out there. It was a really weird kind of deal. But it was fun. We were really having fun.
I cannot wait to watch it. I bet I watch it three times in a row back-to-back. I can’t wait.”
With the win Earnhardt became the championship points leader and is virtually a lock to be in the Chase. The pressure is off now. He can simply race to win.
It would not be a surprise to see Earnhardt run the table at this point. He has momentum and confidence on his side.
How would you rate this year’s Daytona 500, was it one of the greatest races you have seen?
It’s official. Austin Dillon will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
This will mark the first time since 2001 that the No. 3 will be on the track in Sprint Cup competition. Dale Earnhardt last drove it in the 2001 Daytona 500 – his final race.
It was a hard decision for Richard Childress to make. And it has been a long time coming. But Childress says it is the right thing to do. He says fans have been asking when the No. 3 was coming back, and that now is the time.
But many feel that the No. 3 should be retired in honor of Dale Earnhardt. Never to be raced again.
For the record Dale Earnhardt Jr says he has no issue with the No. 3 returning. But he says he understands the importance of the number to Earnhardt fans.
No matter which side you come down on, there will be a little extra spark in the air when the flag waves for the 2014 Daytona 500 as the No. 3 comes down off of turn four to take the green.
How about you, which side are you on? Are you happy to see the No. 3 return, or would you like to see it retired?
Do you know that Dale is actually his middle name – and that Dale Earnhardt Jr’s first name is actually Ralph?
Ralph Lee Earnhardt was Junior’s grandfather and a true racer in his own right. Ralph Earnhardt began his racing career in 1949 after deciding that a lifetime working in North Carolina cotton mills was not for him.
Born in Kannapolis North Carolina in 1928, that is where he made the family home. Ralph and his wife Martha lived in a modest home at the corner of Coach and Sedan streets with their children Dale, Randy, Danny, Kaye and Cathy. And it was there in a small garage behind the house that he built race cars. Ralph made a living by racing and preparing race cars for other drivers and car owners.
Ralph Earnhardt’s cars were considered bullet-proof and race-ready. When he showed up at the track he was ready to race – while other drivers were fiddling with their engines and tuning their cars.
He won over 350 races in his career and was NASCAR’s Sportsman Division champion – what is now called the Nationwide Series in 1956.
Driving for legends Lee Petty and Cotton Owens, Ralph Earnhardt competed in the NASCAR Grand National series, now known as Sprint Cup from 1956 to 1964. Ned Jarrett described him as “absolutely the toughest race car driver I ever raced against.
Ralph Lee Earnhardt died on September 26, 1973 while preparing his car for the next race.
Do you have a Ralph Earnhardt story? Please share it in the comments.
NASCAR announced today that there will be 13 drivers in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon has been added to the field of Chase contenders. The news came from the top of NASCAR with its CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton holding a press conference at Chicagoland Speedway this afternoon.
But the pair of NASCAR honchos seemed less than confident in the decision they were announcing. Like they weren’t totally sold on the idea themselves. And for good reason.
Gordon was added because he had been placed at a disadvantage during Saturday night’s Chase deciding race at Richmond, according to NASCAR.
Penske Racing made a deal with Front Row Motorsports, 2 Ford teams, in the closing laps to allow Joey Logano to pass David Gilliland. That pass put Logano ahead of Gordon for the final spot in the Chase.
NASCAR decided that was Chase manipulation, and good enough reason to add the unprecedented 13th spot.
Isn’t that the same thing the Michael Waltrip Racing crew was docked 50 points apiece for – Chase manipulation? Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr were each docked 50 points each after it was determined that Bowyer intentionally spun in the closing laps in order to help Truex’s Chase chances.
How is a deal for one driver to take a dive and allow another to pass any different? Both incidents were with the intention of manipulating the outcome of the Chase standings.
If NASCAR were to be consistent they would give the Logano team the same penalty that Truex and Bowyer received. 50 points. But NASCAR has never won an award for consistency.
Should Jeff Gordon continue running the way he has been he will be an “also ran” in the Chase. But if Gordon is the 2013 Sprint Cup Champion it will be a dark day for NASCAR.
What do you think?
On Wednesday NASCAR, the private company which runs the world’s most popular and largest stock racing series was brought into the bitter world of divorce. A court order prompted the release of more than 1500 documents form NASCAR CEO Brian France’s divorce case.
But what is not in the documents is even more interesting. Brian France does not own any part of NASCAR.
In his prenuptial agreement written before their marriage in October 2005, and his December 2007 separation agreement, he lists no ownership in NASCAR. Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy are the sole owners of the NASCAR. They are brother and granddaughter, respectively, of NASCAR founder “Big Bill” France.
This was confirmed in the April 2007 lawsuit between Kentucky Speedway and NASCAR. Therefore Brian, who is the nephew and brother of Jim and Lesa and, who has always refused to discuss ownership details, has no stake NASCAR. This is also backed up by the newly released documents.
NASCAR spokesman, Brett Jewkes, confirmed on Thursday that NASCAR is owned by the France family. However, neither NASCAR nor Brian France has any comment on the divorce case or the newly released documents.
However, even though he has no ownership of NASCAR, the documents show how massively wealthy Brian was in 2005 and 2007. According to the documents, Brian’s assets were $554 million with liabilities of $26 million. In 2004, his earnings as NASCAR chairman and CEO grossed $9.05 million. These assets include three California condos worth $4.4 million, a $10.6 million Central Park condo with an additional $780,000 maid condo, three Daytona condos worth $1.8 million, and a $950,000 home in Charlotte. Along with his property ownership, he also owned a yacht $5.2 million, three private planes worth $54.6 million and five cars worth $234,000. Along with this, he lists partial ownership of the Grand-Am sports-car series company, but it had insignificant value in 2007. He also has $120 million worth of stock in the France family owned International Speedway Corp, along with other investments worth $259 million. ISC owns 12 tracks hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
In the divorce, his ex-wife Megan France gained ownership of a $2 million vacant lot, as well as a $3.2 million home in Charlotte.
The case documents were originally sealed, however, Charlotte-area media challenged the sealing, and has the details released. These details show that Brian didn’t pay $6 million of a $9 million payment to his ex-wife Megan. Along with this payment, Brian is paying $510,000 yearly for 10 years in alimony and childcare. The alimony and childcare payment are for their twin children, born in September 2006. Meanwhile, the $6 million, plus any interest is being held pending the outcome of the case.
Details on why Brian defaulted on this $6 million payment come from the documents, which come from a September 2008 lawsuit (the divorce was finalized prior to this). In this lawsuit, Brian states that Megan broke the original terms of the divorce, by not adhering to visitation rights, agreements on the employment of nannies, and confidentiality clauses.
However, Megan France counters saying that Brian was not involved enough in the life of their children, refusing to pay prep school fees for her daughter from a previous marriage.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Note to Brad: Sometimes it’s best to temper your words
May 6, 2013
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Memo to Brad Keselowski:
Regardless of the circumstances, sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and your Twitter feed shut down.
Don’t get me wrong. Your honesty and your willingness to say what’s on your mind are admirable. From a journalist’s standpoint, you’re excellent copy. When you won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship last season, we shared your joy.
You’ve become the poster child for social media in the NASCAR community, starting with your wildly popular tweets during the Daytona 500, after Juan Pablo Montoya lost his argument with the jet dryer.
Nevertheless, there are times when hair-trigger tweets don’t serve you well, and Sunday night was such a time.
I can understand why you were upset. You believed, and may still believe, that David Ragan usurped your rightful position on the outside of the fifth row for the green-white-checkered restart that decided the race.
The facts suggest otherwise. You are absolutely right that Ragan took the green flag from the outside row, in 10th place. He did so because NASCAR instructed him to line up there.
As the Cup cars circled under caution before the restart, those of us in the press box had Ragan scored eighth, on the outside of the fourth row, because that’s what the scoring monitors showed. Scott Speed was ninth, and you were 10th.
But before the green, NASCAR reordered the field after reviewing scoring following the Lap 183 accident that caused the caution and demoted Ragan two positions. That moved Speed up to eighth and you to ninth — on the inside row where you didn’t want to be.
I’m sure you caught Ragan’s explanation after the race.
“We were running eighth when the one-to-go around the caution (came), and NASCAR — I guess it’s standard procedure — they always go back through the running order and adjust any cars that need to be adjusted, I guess with film maybe, when the caution came out on that back straightaway wreck,” Ragan said.
“I knew that we were probably a little higher than what we should be, because we were running 20th or so when that wreck happened and we made it through, so they adjusted the lineup.”
Questioned about the race procedure, NASCAR issued a statement indicating that Ragan had lined up properly.
I’m sure, Brad, that you thought you had a legitimate beef, but that’s not the only issue here. There are times when you should simply hold your tongue to avoid appearing small-minded and petulant.
Front Row Motorsports got its first win and fourth top five in 406 starts. This is the moment in the sun for owner Bob Jenkins and the drivers who finished 1-2, Ragan and David Gilliland. Coming from your blue-collar racing family background, you ought to be able to identify with the enormity of what happened on Sunday.
Realistically, this may be the last win ever for Front Row. You, on the other hand, almost certainly will continue to win races and challenge for championships. The bottom line is that it’s unseemly to spit in Cinderella’s glass slipper on her one big night at the ball.
It’s also unwise to accuse another driver of “cheating the game” two days before your Penske Racing organization faces its final appeal hearing for using what NASCAR has deemed unapproved parts in your rear end housings last month at Texas.
You’re an elite driver and an outspoken, charismatic champion, but there are times when tact and magnanimity should temper your words.
Sunday night is a case in point.
Today, Monday April 29, 2013 is Dale Earnhardt Day. What is your favorite memory of Dale? Let us know in the comments below.
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Danica Patrick has brought many new fans into NASCAR, People who have never seen a NASCAR race before are now tuning in to cheer for Danica and the No. 10 Chevrolet. She has the fastest growing fan base in all of NASCAR
Patrick won the Most Popular Driver Award in the Nationwide Series for 2012. She is already appealing to fans to vote her into the Sprint All Star Race for 2013.
But Patrick is not as popular as NASCAR’s 10 time Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Yet. Earnhardt still leads in souvenir sales and fan surveys, but Patrick is closing.
The Most Popular river Award is determined by a fan vote, and it may come down to who’s fans are most enthusiastic about actually voting.
Acording to Earnhardt he is very proud of his awards in the past. He described last years’s as a great Christmas gift from the fans.
Should either driver score a race win that will surely drive more fans to vote for them, so in reality winning counts, even in a popularity contest.
The award has been given since 1956 and past winners include Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty.
You can vote at MostPopularDriver.com. How do you plan to vote?
Joey Logano knew what he was doing when he refused to lift his foot off the gas pedal on the final turn of the final lap in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 At California Speedway. Logano knew that contact with Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota was inevitable.
However, Logano did not intentionally wreck Hamlin. Logano simply knew what any smart racer knows. 8 wheels turn better than 4. Logano knew that if he could make the turn he had a shot at winning the race. It was just hard racing, pure and simple.
Denny Hamlin knew what he was doing, too. With 2 laps to go Hamlin, then running 2nd to Logano, knew that if he could get Logano’s car a little sideways he could get past. And that is exactly what Hamlin did, giving Logano a shot to the rear bumper and making a pass for the lead.
Logano also knew what he was doing on the final re-start when he took Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet to the apron to prevent Stewart and the rest of the field from passing. Again, that was just hard racing. No one did anything wrong.
Sure, Stewart was upset about it. But it’s not like he has never blocked anyone. Just look at Talladega last year when Tony Stewart’s late race attempt to block took out half the field. When it comes to blocking Stewart is the best in the business according to Logano’s team owner Roger Penske.
Logano didn’t intend for Hamlin to wind up in the hospital with a broken back. But he might have backed off a little if he didn’t feel like Hamlin had one coming after last week’s dust-up at Bristol.
In the heat of the battle both drivers forgot about 3rd place driver Kyle Busch who passed both drivers for the win. With Hamlin and Logano slowing each other down Busch would have made the pass even if the wreck had not occurred.
What is your take on all this? Did Logano cross the line, or was it just racing?