Monday, November 19, 2012

In Nationwide news....

Congrats to Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt for finishing in the top 10 in the Nationwide Series. Cole finished 7th and Danica finished 10th!
Also, congrats to Danica, who was voted the Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver!!!

Last results for this season ......

AdvoCare 500
Started: 23rd
Finished: 21st

Ford EcoBoost 400
Started: 16th
Finished: 10th

See you all next season!! I'll be around to update you as much as I can. Until then, here is what Dale Jr's National Guard car will look like for 2013......
Thanks to for the use of the photo.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Year of Junior: Earnhardt matures with age, adversity

by Nate Ryan, USA TODAY Sports

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 2012 has been a story of triumph and turbulence. Entering Sunday's 35th of 36 races at Phoenix, he reflects on the maturation of a drama-filled season.

November 9. 2012 - KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Standing in a hooded blue sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have passed for a student Thursday at Piper High School.
That is if he hadn't been holding the rapt attention of 500 teenagers in the gymnasium like a dashing quarterback at a pep rally. Sprinkling self-effacing humor into his folksy diction, Earnhardt faced probing questions for nearly 30 minutes.

How do you unwind from going 150 mph? ("I watch the late NFL game.") Do you really like Wrangler jeans? ("Yeah, they don't wear too bad.") What's your most embarrassing moment?
"Using the bathroom in the (race)car," he said, drawing guffaws from the crowd. "You just go. There ain't nothing else you can do. I had to go up to (a crewmember) after the race, and say, 'Look man, when you wash it out there, don't stick your head in there.'"

It might not have been a Toastmasters moment, but it was telling in showing how a once-shy star has gotten comfortable with being himself this season, whether it's dining in public or playing in a recreational softball league.

"I was just really nervous about what people's perceptions would be, so I held a lot of stuff in and just kept a lot of stuff private for a long time," Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports. "I got to a certain age where I guess I'm wanting to live a little more and be more outgoing and put myself out there in situations that are outside my comfort zone.

"I was living like this shielded, protected life for all these years and not seeing much of what was going on out there."

It's been a year of triumph and turbulence for NASCAR's most popular driver, who was sidelined for two races last month by a concussion, but his overarching theme seems one of newfound candor and public maturation often in the face of adversity.

He opened his replica Western town to the media for the first time. He kissed his current girlfriend, Amy Reimann, in victory lane after ending a four-year winless drought. He bared his emotions about his late father in a confessional morning feature on national TV.

He went into detail on the family feud that enveloped his Nationwide Series team, leading to the departure of his uncle, Tony Eury, and cousin, Tony Eury Jr.

The introverted star has crawled out of his shell far enough even to dabble in public speaking. Thursday's appearance was the last of five organized by his sponsor, National Guard, at high schools around the country.

"This is definitely out of my element," he said. "If it were up to me, I wouldn't have OK'd this last year. I'd be like, 'Are you crazy? I ain't talking to all them kids.'

"I don't feel like I'm good at it, so I'm not sure I'm comfortable completely, so it may be something I need (to) practice. If I just keep doing it and keep showing up — and I know we're going to do a lot of these next year — I think it'll be easier."

Awkward situations
Earnhardt, who turned 38 last month, traces his outgoing streak to gregarious crew chief Steve Letarte, who took over his team last season and has led the No. 88 Chevrolet to consecutive appearances in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Besides instilling a more regimented schedule at the track, Letarte also has spent a lot of time with the driver after hours, and his infectious personality took root.
"He just rubbed off on me," Earnhardt said. "This guy is really positive all the time, got a great attitude. When you're around people like that, you tend to act that way. And running better certainly helped. You don't run good, you don't want to go out in public. You're embarrassed."

The lifelong North Carolina resident hasn't shied from putting himself in awkward situations in his hometown of Mooresville this year, joining a city softball league "knowing I can't play a lick."
It's been part of a conscious effort to be more active by Earnhardt, a homebody whose technophile lifestyle included playing video games for hours on end.
"I knew there would be some moments that it wouldn't be the funnest thing in the world, but I wanted to experience things that I haven't before," he said. "People always are like, 'Man, you can't go anywhere.' And that's not true! What happens is you think you can't, and you don't. I'm just like, 'I'm going to go out to dinner with me, Amy and Steve to wherever.' I don't care who's there or who sees me.
"If someone wants an autograph or to boo me, I'm not worried about that anymore."
There have been no awkward encounters as Earnhardt has built a list of favorite out-of-town restaurants in his iPhone. From Louie's Prime Steak House near Pocono Raceway, JP's on the Wharf near Dover International Speedway or Brixx Pizzeria near the Sonoma road course, it's been an eye-opening culinary delight for a foodie who sequestered himself in the motor home lot during his first 10 seasons in the Sprint Cup Series.
"I used to never do that," he said. "I cooked in the bus every night. I never left the track for 10 years probably unless it was to do an appearance. And there are so many great restaurants, one-of-a-kind places.
"I'm just now getting to do that. And it was self-imposed. I'm not blaming nobody. I'm glad to be maturing."
Talking concussions
He remains a "kid at heart", though, as evidenced by his comfort while interacting with more than 100 students during a meet-and-greet session before the gym Q&A with the full student body at Piper High School, which had a visit last year from alum Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family.

"Our kids were really excited about that, but I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the next level," principal Tim Conrad said. "Anytime we can bring someone in who is a positive role model that's a national/worldwide figurehead is very flattering, and our kids are very receptive."

While autographing an array of diecast cars, smartphones, Coke bottles, billfolds and a mini-replica of the Wilson volleyball from Cast Away (one of his favorite movies), Earnhardt was at ease with a parade of kids Thursday who were at least 20 years his junior but still connected with him.
Carley Zwart, 17, whipped out her cellphone to show the Hendrick Motorsports driver a photo of a boar she'd bagged while bow-hunting .("My dad and I watch hunting shows and saw him on there," she said. "I'm not the biggest watcher of NASCAR, but he's my guy.")

"I don't feel that far removed from this generation," Earnhardt said. "I know it's quite a few years, and it's cool to see them have any interest whatsoever in what I'm doing. I feel like I was just in high school 10 years ago. I'm growing old faster than I can get there."

His recent concussion also was a touchpoint for the younger set, particularly Jake Dougherty. The 16-year-old sustained a concussion in a JV football game and asked Earnhardt about his recovery.
"To see somebody so important going through the same thing meant a lot," Dougherty said. "It showed how important it was to take it seriously."

Earnhardt said: "I've heard that a lot. I just really hate that it happened because I didn't want to be the poster boy or spokesperson for that.

"But it's something that I learned a lot from. There was a lot of positives to the experience in that sort of context talking to this kid here. It's fun to meet somebody who's been through it, because you feel singled out when it happens to you."

Earnhardt reveled in several questions about his days at Mooresville High School, ranging from if he'd attended prom ("racing was way more important") or played sports (soccer, on a team that made the state playoffs). His fondest memory? "Going to football games and just acting foolish and starting fights, or watching someone start one."

"I know they don't want me to say that, but it slips out, and that's what we did," he said. "I look back on it and now and think it's ridiculous."

A 'C' student who was "too embarrassed to put an offer in" at a university, Earnhardt said he was uneasy being a role model at a high school that ranked tops in the Kansas City metro area in reading and math. But he still delivered several strong messages encouraging students to stay away from drugs and the wrong crowd, preaching "you've got dreams, and you don't want to derail them."

"I remember as a kid if someone came in the auditorium and said, 'Try harder, don't do dumb stuff, skip school, do drugs,' I wouldn't listen," he said. "I know it's a pretty tall order to break through to anybody. But you have to try. So I try."

More results

Tums Fast Relief 500
Started: 20th (Dale Jr back in car)
Finished: 21st

AAA Texas 500
Started: 19th
Finished 7th

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Results and Update on Jr

Bank of America 500
Started: 26th (Regan Smith driving)
Finished: 38th (down several laps) due to engine failure

Hollywood Casino 400
Started: 39th (Regan Smith driving)
Finished: 7th

Earnhardt Jr. set for Martinsville return

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been cleared to drive this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, according to a statement issued Tuesday afternoon by NASCAR officials.

The statement said NASCAR's medical liaison received official notification of Earnhardt's clearance to resume racing Tuesday morning.

Earnhardt sat out the past two races while recovering from a concussion he suffered in a last-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway. On Monday, he climbed into a car at Georgia's Gresham Motorsports Park for a closed test session attended by neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty and ran 123 laps without incident. The two then met Tuesday morning in Dr. Petty's Charlotte office for a follow-up evaluation.

"Dale Jr. has done everything asked of him," Dr. Petty said in a statement released by Hendrick Motorsports. "He hasn't had a headache since Oct. 12, and we have not been able to provoke any symptoms since that time. I have informed NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports that he is medically cleared for all NASCAR-related activity."

On Sunday, team owner Rick Hendrick said Earnhardt would be entered for Martinsville if Dr. Petty thought the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet had healed sufficiently to be cleared to race.
"I will be shocked if he's not in the car," Hendrick said during the Kansas race. "Everything looks good -- his attitude and the way he feels. He's had no headaches since the Thursday and Friday of Charlotte, and the tests have gone real well. I think Dr. Petty is just being cautious, and I applaud him for that."

Earnhardt went to see Dr. Petty shortly after he began experiencing dizziness and headaches resulting from the Talladega accident. That, coupled with a serious hit during Kansas tire testing in August that resulted in another concussion, gave Dr. Petty reason to advise Earnhardt to step out of the car until he recovered.

During his time away from the car, Earnhardt went to Pittsburgh to meet with Dr. Micky Collins, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Earnhardt also remained actively involved in the team, as replacement driver Regan Smith finished 38th at Charlotte after experiencing an engine failure, then rallied from 39th to seventh at Kansas.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dale Jr out of 88 for next two races due to concussion

Dale Earnhardt Jr will miss the next two Sprint Cup races after suffering a concussion during last Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway.

According to a Hendrick Motorsports release, Earnhardt will not be behind the wheel of his customary No. 88 Chevrolet for both this Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the following week's race at Kansas Speedway. The release went on to say that Earnhardt was diagnosed Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte, and that Regan Smith will be the team's substitute driver at Charlotte and Kansas.

Earnhardt Jr., car owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Steve Letarte were scheduled to speak with the media and offer further details at 11 a.m. ET at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt dropped to 11th in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski, after finishing 20th at Talladega. His No. 88 Chevy was among the 25 cars in the 43-car field caught up in a last-lap wreck. It is believed that he suffered the concussion during that incident.

More results.....

Sylvania 300
Started: 14th
Finished: 13th

AAA 400
Started: 25th
Finished: 11th (-1 lap)

Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500
Started: 12th
Finished: 20th
Dale was running really well until he got caught in the big one that took out just about the entire field.

Monday, September 17, 2012

So sorry!!

It's been a crazy two weeks as I was in the hospital over the Labor Day holiday. I had cellulitis in my ear from getting bacteria in the hole after in bled a little. Now I'm all better, so I can give you something to read!

IRWIN Tools Night Race (Bristol)
Started 16th
Finished 12th

AdvoCare 500 (Atlanta)
Started 35th
Finished 7th

Federated Auto Parts 400 (Richmond)
Started 1st
Finished 14th

Although Dale qualified 4th, he had to move to the rear of the field due to the engine in the 88 being changed. Dale said he over revved the engine during qualifying which hurt the valves. He finished 4th and is still 7th in points.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pure Michigan 400

Dale Jr had a good run at Michigan despite having to go to his back up car and start at the back of the pack. His starting position was 22nd and he finished in 4th, moving him up to 3rd in points. Dale is locked into the chase as the top 4 in points were locked in as of the race at Michigan.

Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen

Dale Jr has never had much luck at road course racing and his day at Watkin's Glen was proof of that. He started 16th and after a late race spin went a lap down and finished in 28th. He lost the points lead and fell to 4th.

In Memory......

Brian Zimmerman, the fan who was killed after the rain shortened Pennsylvania 400.
A fund has been set up for his family, to find out more go to Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Once again ......

I'm falling behind. Shame on me!! Here's the tracks I missed......

LENOX Industrial Tools 301
Started: 9th
Finished 4th

Crown Royal presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard
Started: 20th
Finished: 4th

(This is the race where Dale took over the point standings from Matt Kenseth)

Pennsylvania 400
Started: 8th
Finished: 32nd (due to transmission breaking and time spent in garage to fix it. Still in points lead!!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So sorry!!

I know I've been slacking and I apologize for that, but it's been a pretty busy few weeks.

So here's a recap of the past few weeks:

Toyota/Save Mart 350

Dale has never done well at the road courses, and Sonoma was no different. He started 19th and finished 23rd.

Quaker State 400

Dale had a strong run in this one, started 7th and finishing 4th.

Coke Zero 400

Dale was in line for a top 5 finish, but got caught up in the last big one as Tony Stewart raced to the win. Dale started 24th and due to the wreck, finished 15th. He's still 2nd in points.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Rising Junior Floats All

By Lee Spencer

Sunday morning there was a buzz in the garage with a bent decidedly leaning toward Dale Earnhardt Jr.

OK, from about the moment the transporters rolled into the garage, talk of the four-year anniversary of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver permeated conversations and lines of questioning of other competitors. This was nothing new at Michigan International Speedway, or a lot of other places where Junior had excelled in the past, such as restrictor-plate or short tracks.

But as the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team picked up steam this season — and one top 10 after another — it became clear that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a weekly contender at Daytona International Speedway and even Dover International Speedway.

While the Junior Express storyline at Michigan International Speedway was sidetracked by 200-plus-mph speeds, a new tire compound and a cameo by Bad Kurt Busch over the weekend, once race-day morning arrived and a couple of engines were changed, the black No. 88 Chevrolet became the topic of conversation again.

“A win for Dale Jr. would be a win for all of us,” said a friend.

Before skeptics start speculating that the message came from NASCAR or Chevrolet or Hendrick Motorsports, stop. The wish for Junior’s success came from a specialist who works on another team with another manufacturer.

He’s right. Like Tiger Woods winning a PGA event, Tim Tebow finding success in the NFL or LeBron James finally winning a championship, there are moments that are good for sports in general.

It’s also good for cynics who looked at Junior’s arrival at Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 as simply a souvenir grab to eat their words. Yes, the proceeds from sales of Junior T-shirts and die-casts could feed a small country. But Rick Hendrick’s commitment to turn the No. 88 team around has come to fruition.

And for those who insist the fix was in on Sunday, know this: If there was such a thing as ‘a fix,’ NASCAR would have fixed Junior’s winless drought long before now.

So for the ABJer’s (Anybody But Junior) — including Tony Stewart, who stirred things up with postrace comments questioning the significance of the win — suck it up. Sunday was a holiday for Junior Nation, and for many in NASCAR, particularly because Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte are on a roll. Their average finish of 7.4 is no fluke.

“For me it is (a holiday),” Junior said with a laugh. “It feels good to win, and I’ll enjoy it, and in a day or two, I’ll be thirsty for the next one.”

Letarte would have been relieved for the group to win in its first season together in 2011 because he’s not sure they “had the speed last year” to accomplish the task. However, for both crew chief and driver, there’s the thrill of knowing that they’re just getting started.

“We had some good runs and we had some good cars; we had some consistency, but not like this year,” Letarte said. “I'm a true believer in statistics, and I don't think it's luck. I think you make your own luck. You get bad breaks along the way, but if you have a strong enough race team, and strong enough cars, then even the bad luck can't hold you down forever, and I think this year, we have earned this win.”

Earnhardt had three top fives and eight top 10s in the first 15 races of 2011. He’d led just 42 laps. While the team was consistent enough to remain third in the points standings, there was never the sense that the 88 team was a contender. This year, Earnhardt’s numbers are real and so is the threat. Six top fives, 12 top 10s and 218 laps led in the first 15 races are solid numbers.

Understandably, Letarte and Earnhardt are relieved to get the win behind them. But the anticipation of this team’s potential — owner Rick Hendrick called their chemistry “the best I’ve seen between any crew chief and driver” — is a reason for “excitement.”

“When you start to have winning cars, and then you finally win, it's excitement,” Letarte said. “ I don't think it's relief. Because now you have winning cars and you know that the hard work is paying off.

“That's why we are going to enjoy the win, but we are going to enjoy it to a point to where there's a lot of trophies left to get, and we want to get some more.”

Junior concurred.

“I thought it would be all relief,” Junior said. ”But it was no relief at all; it was excitement.”

Letarte And Junior Reach New Level

Steve Letarte essential part of Junior win...

By Larry McReynolds

We’ve talked all year about how Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the entire No. 88 team have been the perfect model of consistency. In my eyes, their win Sunday at Michigan International Speedway didn’t have to happen to solidify how serious he and the team are about their championship aspirations.

That said, winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday took it to a whole new level.

Earnhardt Jr. and his team have simply had an incredible season so far. After Sunday, they have one win, 12 top-10 finishes, six top-five finishes and Dale Jr. sits only four points out of first place. Now with only 11 races until the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, Earnhardt Jr. has to be relieved.

Prior to Sunday, it had been four long years since he last won a NASCAR Sprint Cup points race. Sunday’s win will go a long way in silencing the naysayers and the Junior critics. He and his team have been consistent and now they are showing they are legitimate contenders. In the last two races, Dale Jr. has led 131 laps. Last year he led a total of 52 laps in the entire 36-race schedule.

It’s been well-documented that it had been four years and two days since Dale Jr. last won. Actually if you do the math, it had been 1,463 days since he won. After winning that race in 2008, he basically fell off the map for the rest of the season. I don’t see that happening this time. The team is too consistent and just too good right now to let that happen.

I, like a lot of others, feel the win Sunday at Michigan might be the springboard for a lot more wins before the season is over. Earnhardt Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports team are running incredibly well and we just might see an outbreak of wins. I think the key in all this is crew chief Steve Letarte. He has been a part of championships and also the key in a lot of wins by Jeff Gordon.

I think he can keep himself, the race team and most importantly his driver, Dale Jr., grounded and not let them slack off. This weekend is going to be a huge test for them. Dale Jr. has made it known for years that he doesn’t like road-course racing and struggles with that type of driving. Sonoma has never been one of his stronger places to race, obviously.

Now that doesn’t mean he and his team can’t go out there Sunday and get a solid race and top finish under their belt and move on. We saw Sunday how, when things weren’t good, they didn’t panic and just focused on making the car better. It’s those little signs that show me they are where they need to be. They know they can’t sit still and have to keep moving forward.

They know very well the Jimmie Johnsons, Tony Stewarts and Matt Kenseths of the Cup world are not sitting still, so they can’t either. Earnhardt Jr. and his team have it all going their way right now. They are leading laps. They now have won their first race of the year. They are finishing in the top five or, when that isn’t possible, they are still pulling out top-10 finishes. That type of performance will win you a championship.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the best frame of mind I have seen him in years. The biggest thing he has going for him is what every driver needs – confidence. He has confidence again in himself. He believes in his race team and those guys and gals believe in him. They are just the real deal right now.

Obviously this was a very popular win for Junior Nation and for our sport. When the most popular driver in maybe all of motorsports breaks a four-year dry spell and celebrates in Victory Lane, well it is just pretty big.

I am very thrilled for Steve Letarte. He ended a 115-race winless streak himself. He is an awesome person. He is the perfect person who supports his team and his driver. He has done something that others weren’t able to do and that’s get NASCAR's most favorite son back to Victory Lane.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ring the bell

By Joe Menzer
After long-awaited win, parade of admirers say Junior has sound of a champion

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- The stream of well-wishers and congratulatory hugs and handshakes kept coming Sunday in Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway.

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. could have embraced everyone who cheered for him not only in the Quicken Loans 400 he had just won but through every heart-breaking moment of the past four years, he no doubt would have. Driving the No. 88 Chevrolet with a logo from the movie The Dark Knight Rises on the hood, Earnhardt had just captured Sunday's race in dominating fashion to break a four-year winless drought in Sprint Cup points races that had stretched to 143 events. In doing so, Earnhardt worked not only the crowd in attendance and many watching on television into a bona fide frenzy, but also apparently those who work with and around him, or even race against him.
Mike Helton, president of NASCAR, stopped by briefly to hug Earnhardt. Helton later told Sirius Radio that it's his belief that Earnhardt -- who sits second in the point standings, only four points behind leader Matt Kenseth -- now is the man to beat for this year's Sprint Cup championship.
Jimmie Johnson, who has won five of those, also dropped by to offer congratulations. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet team shares a Hendrick Motorsports shop with Earnhardt and the No. 88 Chevy team that includes crew chief Steve Letarte.

"This is so great. I'm just proud of Junior. He's been chipping away at it for a while -- especially this year," Johnson said after congratulating his Hendrick Motorsports teammate in Victory Lane. "The communication and the camaraderie between he and Stevie and throughout our shop, I should say, has been amazing. Internally, we've seen this coming. I'm just happy for him to get this off his back now.

"That will shut anybody up who has had anything to say. There's only one way you really want to win -- and that's by kicking everybody's ass. And that's what he did today."

Indeed, he did. This time no fuel-mileage gambit was necessary -- as it was four years ago almost to the day when he last won at the same 2-mile track. This time there was no doubt. This was no fluke, and no one was snickering when Helton joined points leader Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and others in declaring that this season is shaping up as Earnhardt's best chance of winning his first Cup championship.

Earnhardt won by nearly six seconds over second-place finisher Tony Stewart and led a race-high 95 laps, more than twice as many as anyone else. As the race wound down, really the only demons he had to battle were in his own head as he steadily increased the gap between him and Stewart and the rest of the field.

"That was the worst feeling, riding around there with 15 laps to go," Earnhardt admitted. "I kept wondering what was going to happen, how you were going to lose. Those last 15 laps couldn't go by fast enough. ... I was in there, just going crazy. I'm looking all around the race track, looking for debris around the next corner. I just knew I was going to come around the next corner and see a big piece of metal laying in the middle of the race track.

"I was just waiting for something to happen. That was terrifying, to be honest with you. I kept thinking of Steve and the team and about how hard all of us have worked, and about how we deserved to win and how we should win -- and I was hoping it would happen for everybody."
Gordon, another Hendrick teammate and winner of four championships himself, also visited Earnhardt in Victory Lane after no mysterious metal pieces emerged on the track over the final laps.
"It's amazing for the sport," Gordon said. "You know it's going to be everywhere. It's going to be headlines and it's going to get a lot of attention -- as it should. I mean, he won. He did a great job, and he deserves all the credit in the world for it."

Couch laps and chemistry

Shortly after pulling into Victory Lane, Earnhardt was handed a cell phone. Rick Hendrick, the owner of Hendrick Motorsports, was on the other line.

Earlier, when Earnhardt had learned that Hendrick did not plan to be at MIS on Sunday, he had joked that Hendrick had better have a good excuse.
"I told him he'd better be on a boat somewhere in the Florida Keys," Earnhardt said.
Actually Hendrick was back at home in Charlotte, N.C., but he hardly found it a restful Father's Day as the afternoon wore on. After waiting out a two-hour rain delay before the dropping of the green flag, Hendrick gradually adopted the stance of a nervous father awaiting the birth of a child in the hospital waiting room.

"I was doing laps around my couch -- trying to end this race, man," Hendrick said. "Batman was in a hurry. I was too nervous to stand still. [Wife] Linda and I were just watching it, [saying], 'Come on, no problems.' I was so afraid there was going to be a caution, or something was going to happen."
Maybe now that this win is behind them, Earnhardt and Hendrick and Letarte can all begin to, well, not relax a little bit -- but at least eliminate some of the stark fear that obviously crept in toward the end of Sunday's race. But really, who could blame them? After running out of gas on the final lap at Charlotte last year, after running second at Martinsville and Kansas last season and again in this year's Daytona 500, only to come up short of Victory Lane every time, it was understandable that they had to wonder what bad thing might happen next.

This time, no gremlins blocked the path to the checkered flag. Afterward, Hendrick was added to the list of Junior fans who think this could be the 88 team's year.

"I think the chemistry is the best I've seen with any crew chief and driver," Hendrick said of Earnhardt and Letarte. "You just look at the way they've been running and how they had a lot of speed, you knew this was going to come. And you just try to say, 'Dale, don't worry about that stuff, man. You're almost leading the points here. You've got more top-10 [finishes] than anybody. When you run second, third and fourth, you're going to win races.'"

Gordon agreed, and noted the reaction of the throng at the Michigan track to Earnhardt's popular win.
"I mean, you heard the crowd," Gordon said. "We all know the pressure that's been on Junior. Not just on him, but on his entire team and Rick. This is an awesome accomplishment. Those guys have been so solid all year. It's hard to luck your way into one of these things these days. To be as high up in the points as they've been, to be as solid as they've been, it's a well-deserved win overall."

Staying power

Earnhardt brought a small bobblehead of Hendrick into the media center for his post-race winner's interview, plopping it down next to him in front of a microphone. Then he positively beamed out at the media gathered in front of him, able to bask in the glow of a Sprint Cup victory for the first time since Father's Day in June of 2008 at the same venue.

Asked what it meant to have so many fellow competitors and others rejoice in his latest victory, Earnhardt said: "I guess it means I'm an all-right dude, when people are happy for me and wanted to see me do good. That's the way I am about people. I want to see good people do good things. I want to see good people have success and be happy."
The bobblehead nodded its approval, and Earnhardt continued.
"I feel like we're getting stronger. One of the things we did last year throughout the season was kind of just maintain," he said. "Even though I was happy as hell to be with Steve and to be able to run well and be competitive, I was a little disheartened that we didn't progress through the year, really. We didn't find more speed as the year when on. We kind of stayed the same throughout the season. ... This year, we've gotten faster throughout the year. We started off pretty quick, and we've gotten quicker -- especially these last couple of weeks. That's been a thrill for me."

It wasn't just that he won Sunday. It was how he won.

"That race we won four years ago was a fuel-mileage deal, and today we just whupped 'em. That felt good," Earnhardt said.

He had complained bitterly the night before the race when an extra practice was added by NASCAR after a last-minute switch to new left-side tires. He said he didn't know what to expect, and was concerned when Letarte shut down the 88 after only 25 laps in the extra practice session.
"They made some changes [Friday] night that I wasn't too happy about," Earnhardt admitted. "But after the extra practice [Saturday], Steve was pretty confident. I was pretty nervous when the race started, because the car wasn't where we needed it to be. I didn't think we were in too big of trouble, but we needed some adjustments.

"At that moment, I guess I worry if Steve knows exactly where I'm at and what I need with the car, how much I need. But I guess he knows me well enough -- because he made the right calls and that thing took off flying. And then he made he made some pit-strategy choices that put us toward the front, to where the car could respond if we had a fast car -- and it did."

In other words, Letarte responded to Sunday's challenge and so did his driver. Earnhardt may have had the Dark Knight gracing the hood of his car, but he rode into Victory Lane like a White Knight for all of NASCAR.

Where they go from here is largely up to them. But before heading to the next race track, Earnhardt already had booked a visit to the Hendrick Motorsports complex to honor a tradition that previously had left him feeling left out.

"We've got this victory bell that I get to take around for the first time since we built it. I plan to ring that thing all over the complex," said Earnhardt, grinning. "I'm going to ring that damn thing as hard as I can."        

The drought is over! Junior back in Victory Lane

Earnhardt Jr. leads 95 of the 200 laps and cruises to first victory in four years

By NASCAR Wire Service
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- At the same venue that produced his last Sprint Cup victory, four years and two days removed from his most recent visit to Victory Lane, Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke the most talked-about, most frustrating streak in motorsports.
Pulling away from defending series champion Tony Stewart at the end of the final 60-lap green-flag run, Earnhardt won Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway by a dominating 5.393 seconds to end a winless drought of 143 races.

"I know you guys have been waiting on that one," Earnhardt radioed to his crew after crossing the finish line. "I know I have."

As Earnhardt performed a wild celebratory burnout on the frontstretch, fans and crew members crowded around Victory Lane as the crowd in the grandstands stood and cheered.

The victory was the 19th in the Cup Series for Earnhardt, who solidified second place in the Cup standings, closing to four points behind leader Matt Kenseth, who ran third Sunday behind Earnhardt and Stewart.

Earnhardt overcame Goodyear's 11th-hour switch to a harder left-side tire, after blistering became an issue on the left sides originally supplied for the race. Earnhardt wasn't happy with the handling of his No. 88 Chevrolet during an extra practice Saturday night, but crew chief Steve Letarte found a combination that worked for the race.

Greg Biffle finished fourth, followed by five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who started from the rear of the field because of an engine change before the race but worked his way back into the top five.

Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Juan Montoya, pole-sitter Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10.         

Earnhardt took the lead for the first time on Lap 70, when he passed Ambrose for the top spot. From that point on, his was the dominant car -- Earnhardt led a race-high 95 laps.

"Winning races is all you ever want," Earnhardt said in Victory Lane. "You work real hard to get there, and I've got to thank [team owner] Rick Hendrick, the whole organization, really, for sticking with me.

"They could have picked another route, but they stuck with me, and we're back in Victory Lane. I appreciate everybody's support -- Rick, the company, the fans, my team ... everybody.
The start of the race was delayed for nearly two hours by rain, but by the time NASCAR's most popular driver took the checkered flag, the track was bathed in sunshine.

About the only blight on the landscape was Tony Stewart's response to Earnhardt's long-awaited victory. Apparently tired of questions about Earnhardt's winless streak, Stewart resorted to sarcasm.
"It's no different than anybody else that does it -- it's not a national holiday, guys," Stewart said. "This morning they were celebrating the fourth anniversary of his last win, so I guess we're all in a state of mourning now, 'cause he's broke that string now, so I wonder what we're all supposed to think."
Kenseth, Earnhardt's longtime friend, was more gracious in his assessment of the breakthrough victory.

"This year you could see it going to be a matter of time," Kenseth said. "They've really been the guys -- that No. 88 has had a ton of speed. They haven't always gotten the finishes [because of] circumstances, but they've been battling up there in the top five each and every week. They've finished every lap.

"I'm really happy for him to get that win. The championship part, I think they're definitely a contender. They've been right up there in the mix each and every race, no matter what size or shape the race track. I think they're definitely, at this point in the season, one of the favorites."    

Quicken Loans 400

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR

So close! Had they not made that last pit stop they would've probably won, but in the end Dale finished 8th. He led a lot of laps and had a bad fast race car. Standings are not posted yet, so I'll post it when I find out if he moved at all!

Next week the guys head to Michigan.

At Pocono, it's not quite the same without 'Doc'

I know this is a blog for Dale Jr, but this story has personal significance for me since I'm a Pennsylvanian and Pocono Raceway is close to not only my home, but also my heart. Pocono has always gotten a bad rap for how they've run their operation, but they have proven time and time again that sometimes running things a little differently is better than running things the conventional way. Here is an article from written by David Caraviello. Thank you David for remembering "Doc" as we who loved him, love Pocono, and love NASCAR remember him.

LONG POND, Pa. -- The first indication that something is different at Pocono Raceway comes as you emerge from the tunnel, and see the large sign stripped above the track's primary infield road. "Welcome to Doc's place," reads the first of many testaments to Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of this
quirky triangular layout in the Pennsylvania hills. There's just one problem.

Doc would have hated it.

"He'd be furious about that. He'd be furious about that," said Pocono track president Brandon Igdalsky, also Mattioli's grandson. "But that's OK. He can yell at us all day long about that. I'm all right with it."

Mattioli, a Philadelphia dentist who bought a spinach farm off Interstate 80 and turned it into a major American racing venue, died in January at age 86. Along with his ever-present wife, Rose, the man they still lovingly call "Doc" was more than just Pocono's founder -- he was in many ways the track's spirit and identity, his nature reflected in so many personal touches like the spires looming over the grandstand or the names of champion drivers painted on large rocks. Doc did it his way, and that way was often unique and unconventional, and he left an indelible imprint on the employees and family members who continue to operate the facility.

And his passing has left a void as large as the 2.5-mile footprint of this race track. How much did Mattioli mean to Pocono? Consider that there had never, ever, been a race at this venue without him -- until now.

"It's definitely bittersweet, you know?" said grandson Nick Igdalsky, Pocono's vice executive president and chief operating officer. "You wish he was here. We're happy our NASCAR family is here, but ... it's going to be the first race ever without him. We've gotten over the emotion of the events in January, and that kind of brings it back to the front when you get back to the track this weekend, and you see everybody again."

So much of Pocono is timeless, and so much of that is by design, and all of it goes back to the man who caught the racing bug one Sunday afternoon at a dirt track in Nazareth, Pa., joined a group of investors developing what would become the current facility off Long Pond Road, and eventually became controlling partner. What originally was envisioned as a road course became a three-eighths oval, and then became a triangular superspeedway designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rodger Ward, featuring corners modeled after those at tracks in Milwaukee, Trenton, N.J., and Indianapolis.

The design would not be the last idiosyncrasy. Stars arrayed around the tunnel entrance contain car numbers representing luminary drivers -- Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip, among others -- in Pocono's own unofficial hall of fame. Rose Mattioli is a horse-racing fan who always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby, so her husband brought a little of Churchill Downs to her in the form of the twin spires (which are actually lightning rods) atop the grandstand, and a Mint Julep Club on the ground floor of Victory Lane. Even today, a bugler sounds the call to the post before every Pocono race.
That's all Doc, products of the man whose beard and booming voice were constants at this track for four decades. He could be demanding, he could be adamant, he could be blunt. But he also inspired unshakable loyalty on the part of those who worked for him at the race track, a group that came to include his children and grandchildren, who employ the lessons they learned still today. "We've all picked up different traits, I think, of his from the philanthropy side to how we conduct ourselves on a business side and personally," Nick said. "There are so many things he taught us, it's hard to pick a few."

Brandon calls it the School of Doc. "It's literally just absorbing everything that came out of the man's mouth," he said. "He would get going, and he would go on a rant. You just sit back and hang on, because he'd start telling one story and how he got to that point, and all the bad decisions he made to get to that success. From things like that to just basic business practice he's learned over the years, things a business professor would tell you you cannot do that. But at the same time, you're like -- hell, some of that stuff still works today. You've just got to know how to do it."

Drivers who have been coming to Pocono for a long time won't forget him, either. "It's definitely going to be different," said Jeff Gordon, a five-time winner at the track. "I built a great relationship with Doc over the years. Most of it was walking across the stage for driver introductions, he and Rose just always being present, the first ones you came across to greet. He just always was kind to me. He always had an ongoing joke with me he would say to me every time I walked across that stage. So this weekend it's going to be a lot different not hearing those words coming from him."

So no wonder this weekend is loaded with tributes to a man whose very personality is reflected in this unique, timeless place. The sign outside the tunnel was the idea of one of Brandon's twin 8-year-old daughters. Artist Sam Bass painted a tribute portrait of Mattioli that will appear on the cover of the race program, which also will feature a seven-page photo spread inside. Pre-race ceremonies will feature a moment of silence, the playing of Taps, a 21-cannon salute, and a 90-second video tribute. Sprint Cup cars are carrying a memorial sticker, "Doc," inside of a black triangle, and employees are wearing pins of the same design. The sticker and pin are also being sold at merchandise stands, with the proceeds going to a Mattioli Foundation that's donated roughly $6 million to causes around the region during the past five years.

Even though Mattioli would bristle at the idea of his name on something -- "He'd hate that part," Brandon said -- the tributes were natural. But they're also coming down like an emotional sledgehammer on family members who are revisiting the grief of their patriarch's passing all over again.

"It's awful," said Brandon, who can be as blunt as his grandfather was. "This week ... has been probably as tough as the week after his funeral, and that adjustment period. Race day is going to suck emotionally. I'm trying to prepare myself as much as I can. But I've spent the last few days driving around this place, and every time I stop somewhere, I think of something he and I did in that spot. And the crazy thing is, there are things coming back into my memory that I have not thought about in 20, 25 years. Stuff when I was a little kid. It's crazy. I feel him right there with me, though. They always say you feel your loved ones right there with you. I've never lost anybody that close to me, but I feel like he's sitting there, looking down and saying, 'Don't you screw this up. Don't you screw this up.' "

Yes, Doc would hate the tributes. He also might be a little uncomfortable with some recent changes made by track management, most notably a resurfacing project and a shortening of Pocono's NASCAR events from 500 to 400 miles. "There are some things we're doing that I know he's kicking our a-- for," Brandon said. But competitors have raved about most of the alterations, which included replacement of an antiquated inner guardrail with the SAFER barrier last year. "I think it'll bring some life back into this race track," Cup Series points leader Greg Biffle, once a vocal critic of Pocono's safety systems, said of the most recent changes to the 2.5-mile facility.

But for all the changes, so much at this track stays the same. It's still Doc's place, as it always will be. And Sunday the spectators will arrive and the cars will roll off the starting grid and Pocono will bask in its one-of-a-kind glory, which to Joseph Mattioli is always what mattered most.

"The emotions are very, very mixed," Rose Mattioli said. "We're going to miss him dreadfully, but we're going to do what he would want us to do, and continue, and make everything happen as though he was right there. And I know he would appreciate it."

Some interesting facts about Pocono Raceway:
• Joe "Doc" and Rose Mattioli were each successful doctors in Philadelphia, he a dentist, she a podiatrist. Both were extremely hard working. In October 1960, Doc had to operate alone on two patients and when it was over he had the shakes. At that point he made a snap decision. "I said, 'The hell with it,' and from that day on, I didn't do anything I didn't enjoy. I learned how to fly, ski, sail -? all things I'd wanted to do. I took a year off, then invested in Camelback Ski Area and other Pocono businesses."
• One day when Doc had flown into the Poconos, a gentleman he met in the airport tried to talk him into investing in a local project. Just to get rid of him he gave him his card and told him to let me know when he had his next meeting. Six weeks later he called. Doc came up and got involved. The original investors had optioned 1,025 acres, a spinach farm, but they didn't have any money. The Mattiolis guaranteed the mortgage and ended up putting more and more money into the project until eventually they became the majority owners. "The track wasn't my idea I just got sucked in through the back door because I knew it was a good buy on the land. All the money I'd made off my other Pocono businesses went into the race track."
• There was not enough funding to build a superspeedway so the owners first built a three-eighths-mile oval that was finished in 1968. The 2.5-mile track was completed two years later. In order to be the Pocono PFC (Pretty, Friendly, Clean) raceway that it is today, the track and its surroundings had to withstand some serious difficulties and major reconstruction.
• The first race on the big track was an IndyCar race in 1971, but it was soon followed by nature's fury as Hurricane Agnes left behind tremendous damage in its path. Soon thereafter, Pocono Raceway's very existence was threatened by an economic and energy crisis. Due to the gas shortage and economy in the 1970s, the Mattiolis considered selling the track to new owners. Bill France Sr. met with them several times and persuaded them not to sell the track.
• The first Cup race at Pocono was August 1974, won by Richard Petty. A second Cup race was added in 1982. The track has hosted 68 races from 1974-2011.
• In August 2011, Doc resigned and turned over all his duties to his grandchildren. "It has to stay in the family," said Mattioli, in a June interview with "The Philadelphia Inquirer." "I put it in trust. They can't touch it. They can't sell it. The [SOBs] are going to run it, or they're going to starve." Track president and grandson Brandon Igdalsky added the additional title of CEO.
• On Jan. 26, 2012, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, age 86, died after a lengthy illness a little more than a month after he and his wife were awarded the prestigious National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers award which recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to stock-car racing.
• Pocono Raceway is the only family owned and operated of the 23 tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Coca-Cola 600 and FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks

So sorry I've been not keeping up with the blog! Junior finished 6th at Charlotte and 4th at Dover. He moved up one position to 3rd in points. This weekend at Pocono, he started 8th and I am hoping he does well, would be better if he got a win!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It’s a Junior moment

Earnhardt Jr. talks about his legacy, losing streak and fighting

By Tom Sorensen
Friday, May. 18, 2012

CONCORD - Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 37, but he doesn’t look it. He’ll never look his age. There’s a quality about him that’s perpetually young.

Newly clean-shaven, he sits in his hauler in the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage Friday afternoon, fire suit pulled down to his waist, revealing an orange T-shirt. In his mouth is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and it’s not a miniature. If, between bites, he says, “Dude,” the word will sound authentic.

Before walking to the 88 hauler I run into Ray Evernham, one of the great minds in racing. I ask what I should ask Earnhardt. He suggests I ask what he wants his legacy to be.

“My legacy?” Earnhardt asks. “What are my choices?”

He pauses five seconds, 10, 15.

EARNHARDT: “I think I want people to think that I was a really good guy and a lot of fun. You know you’re always trying to work on being a better race car driver, but you’re always working on being a better person – fun to work with, fun to be around, team player, willing to do whatever you’re asked to do.”

QUESTION: When was the last time you used your name to get something the rest of us can’t?

EARNHARDT: “I guess when you’re in Vegas and you’re at a club, to get a table. I kind of like to play roulette but I like to play by myself or with friends and sometimes get a table by ourselves.

“I wanted to bring my Airstream, my 20-foot Airstream, down there (to a Charlotte Motor Speedway lot some call the Big Money Lot) next to all the buses. I used my name to get me a spot in the heavy duty lot with all the big names, the superstars. You know, like Jeff Gordon. I got (the Airstream) a couple months ago because I like going to camp and going to the mountains out west in N.C. and sit around a creek for a couple days. So I had to call (NASCAR president) Mike Helton and say, ‘Hey man, can I get my camper in there?’ He said, ‘Yeah I’ll help you out.’ So I used my name.”

The lot is full of 40-plus foot luxury coaches that cost more than your house. And there’s the shiny little Airstream. Next to the adult, fully grown coaches it looks like a mascot. You almost want to pet it.

QUESTION: When I say Kurt Busch, what do you think?

EARNHARDT: “Sharpie. Him driving a Sharpie car for a long time. I thought it was a cool sponsor.”

BETTER QUESTION: When I say Kurt Busch at Darlington, what do you think?

EARNHARDT: What happened? I haven’t seen any of the video, haven’t heard anything about what happened. He said he was taking his helmet off, he made a mistake and ran into the car. I don’t have anybody in that fight.”

QUESTION: Do you ever go out and not get recognized?

EARNHARDT: “There’s a lot of places where people don’t know who you are. Just the other week we were in New Hampshire testing and went out to eat some food and drink some Diet Mountain Dews and the people in there were like, ‘Man, you look like Dale Earnhardt Jr.’ I said, ‘All right.’ You look like somebody. They don’t always peg you.”

QUESTION: How about in Charlotte?

EARNHARDT: “They tend to be used to it. So when I go out in Mooresville nothing happens. They just come by your table and say you’re been running good, keep it up, and I love that. That makes you feel so good.”

QUESTION: Your nephew, Jeffrey (son of Kerry Earnhardt) will make his amateur mixed martial arts debut Tuesday in a card at Coyote Joe’s. If the Sprint Cup drivers hold their own mixed martial arts tournament, who wins?

EARNHARDT: “Carl Edwards is pretty into working out. So is Mark Martin, and he’s small so he’d be hard to keep up with. Tony (Stewart) probably would be pretty physical, he’s a big guy. I don’t know. That’d be fun to be part of. I like to fight. I like, not in a mean-spirited way, to box and stuff. It’d be good competition. It’d be fun.”

Earnhardt has run 140 straight points races without a victory.

QUESTION: How will you react when you win?

EARNHARDT: “It’d be hard not to party too hard.

QUESTION: Do you think about how it will feel?

EARNHARDT: “I think about it some because we’re kind of getting close (third in the Sprint Cup points, 14 points out of the lead). I think about what could help us win, what I could do or whatever it is about my car. You just think about what might be missing.

“The best part about (winning) is getting in Victory Lane and seeing your crew. You sit there and you watch them work their…off for months at a time. That’s sort of the payoff for me. To see the guys happy, to see family happy, to see friends happy, to see the owner happy, that’s the payoff. That’s what I enjoy the most.

“That would sort of justify all the hard work and all these races and travel. And we don’t make a lot of sacrifices. To be honest with you, it’s a pretty fun life, fun job. But there’s a lot of days when you beat yourself up. You don’t run like you want to or you have a bad race and you beat the hell out of yourself all weekend, all week.

QUESTION: What about winning a championship?

EARNHARDT: “To be a champion really puts a mark on you, puts you in an elite group, puts you in very good company. A lot of times races are won and lost by the best drivers and the fastest cars, and often by circumstances and strategy and fuel mileage. (But) champions are true champions. You didn’t make it on fuel mileage.”

Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race

WHOOOO HOOOO!!! WAY TO GO JUNIOR! Awesome job to Dale Jr, Stevie, and the 88 pit crew on getting Dale the Showdown win. I think had Matt Kenseth not spun his tires, Dale would've also had the All-Star win. This coming weekend is the 600, the longest race of the season. Dale said he and Stevie talked about bringing the car from the All-Star race to the Charlotte race. So we'll see what happens!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bojangles Southern 500

Dale battled all night with a loose race car. At one point he was down a lap, but got the lucky dog and got it back. He finished 17th and is still 3rd in points.

On another note, congrats to Mr. Hendrick and all of Hendrick Motorsports on their 200th win. I really wanted to see Dale win it, but I'm sure that Dale is very happy for Rick!!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Aaron's 499

Dale had a strong car and had a good night, leading several laps and finishing 9th. He's slid to 3rd in points, but is consistant each week and works hard to stay up there in points.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Capital City 400 presented by Virginia is for Lovers

Dale Jr had a strong run at Richmond and was in contention for the win. He started 10th and did well during the entire race. Due to penalties to Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson, Dale was able to make his way to 3rd place and finished 2nd. This good finish has moved Dale back into the 2nd place in points. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes keen interest in White House while tracing his family tree

Bob Pockrass
Sporting News

KANSAS CITY, Kan.—Dale Earnhardt Jr. had been to The White House before, but his visit Tuesday allowed him to view the inside of the historic building with a different perspective.

Earnhardt Jr. revealed Friday that he has spent significant time the last six months researching his family heritage beyond his well-known father, the seven-time Cup champion, and his grandfather, short-track legend Ralph Earnhardt.

So when Earnhardt Jr. visited The White House along with the other 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers, Earnhardt Jr. paid more attention to some of the older pieces of art than he had in the past.

“Ralph’s father, I didn’t know who he was, never really cared who he was, never thought about who he was or what his family would be like,” Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Kansas Speedway. “I never thought past Ralph all these years.”

With the help of a genealogy expert, Earnhardt Jr. found the burial plots for his great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather on Ralph’s side of the family in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. To him, it was neat to find the plots of relatives, including some born as far back as 1809.

“It’s really cool to stand there over somebody that is responsible for you being there,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “That was pretty neat. I had people tell me to work on my family tree before, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

“Once I got into it, I started to realize the importance of it. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Earnhardt Jr. hopes to create a document with his family tree so other family members can learn about their heritage.

That experience translated into him taking keen interest in things at The White House, such as a portrait of George Washington.

“There was a picture of George Washington that they carried out of the place when they set it on fire (in the War of 1812),” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’ve known that and they told us about that before, but I didn’t really grasp what that meant, how old that piece truly is.

“He is standing out in front of it. Being (able) to literally reach out and touch it is a pretty amazing thing.”

Read more:

STP 400

Dale Jr had a good day, running as high as third and didn't fall out of the top 20 all day. Even after missing the entrance to pit road and having to come back around for his pit stop, he and the 88 team didn't miss a beat all day. Junior started and finished in 7th position and he's slipped one more position to 4th in the standings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Samsung Mobile 500

Dale Jr started the day in 16th and quickly made his way into the top 10. After the first pit stop, Dale's car got pretty loose and he fell back to where he started. After another pit stop his car went back to good and he moved to the top 10 and stayed there, finishing 10th and moving down one spot to 3rd in points.

Next week the guys head to Kansas.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Auto Club 400 and Goody's Fast Relief 500

Dale Jr had a decent day both last week and this week, running in the top 10 almost all day starting 14th and finishing 3rd. Last week Dale Jr moved to 3rd in points and this week he's moved up again into 2nd place in points. NASCAR is off next week for Easter, and will head to Texas for the Saturday night race. See you then!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kobalt Tools 400

Dale Jr had a great day at Las Vegas, leading quite a few laps before finishing 10th. He's 4th in the standings and is having a great start to 2012!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Subway Fresh Fit 500

Dale Jr battled with a loose race car all day Sunday. He started 29th, and quickly fell back to 30th. After a few pit stops and some adjustments, he slowly started to make his way towards the front, but didn't crack the top 10 once. He finished 14th and has slid down to 5th in points. Next week the guys head to Sin City for the Kobalt Tools 400.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Daytona 500

Wow, what a race! What a fire! So glad that Juan Pablo Montoya and the driver of the safety truck were both OK after that wreck.

Dale had a very good evening, running mid pack and avoiding all the "big ones" throughout the evening. I think that had Kenseth not been as far out as he was, Dale would've won his second Daytona 500. But he came in second and that's a good enough start to the season for me.

Danica's day didn't go well at all. She was involved in the second lap crash and was still able to get back out on the track and log some laps.

Next week the guys head to Phoenix.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Earnhardt enthused about rest of Speedweeks

Strong runs in Shootout, qualifying has '04 500 winner ready to compete on track

By Dave Rodman, NASCAR.COM

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- These days, the biggest thing going on with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s position in the Sprint Cup Series is he appreciates crew chief Steve Letarte and his men's hard work. Especially since that's placed their No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet near the front of the field.
That was never more evident than after Sunday's qualifying run for the Daytona 500, when Earnhardt failed to defend his 2011 pole or sit on the front row for the third consecutive year. But he did end up third and thus, will start on the front row for Thursday's first Gatorade Duel qualifying race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Autostock)

I felt like I was doing a good job [Saturday night], I had control of my race and had potential to win the race if I made all the right moves -- that is all I can ask for.

"We were kind of struggling to run with [Jeff Gordon, Saturday] and we all pretty much had the same engine," Earnhardt said of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, who qualified sixth. "We probably got a little better wind and we made some changes in our car, as well, trying to find more speed.

"I've got to thank my crew for working as hard as they could, not being complacent and taking whatever they could get. They really went after it and I had a shot at the pole."

On an equal level -- and probably an even more important one here at Daytona International Speedway considering how a proverbial puff of wind or slip of the steering wheel can wipe out multiple cars -- Earnhardt accepts the hand he and his 48 competitors trying to establish their positions for Sunday's Daytona 500 have been dealt.

Surprisingly enough, considering his car was a potential Budweiser Shootout winner last Saturday night before someone else's miscue -- "something that happened that should not have happened," Earnhardt said -- destroyed it, Earnhardt's enjoying the current state of superspeedway racing, which he called a throwback.

"I like it better [but] it can get even better than this [and] we still need to keep trying to make it even better," Earnhardt said. "It was fun to be able to be offensive and go up there and try to take the lead. I think the fans really enjoyed all the lead changes we were able to have and everybody out there being able to work on their own deal -- not really having to have a partner all the time to make something happen.

"The closing rate is a little fast. Guys will go flying backwards and forwards. I think we have really made a lot of great improvements and I have more of my destiny in my hands in this type of racing."
That's an interesting statement considering his disgust at what happened to him Saturday night. On Sunday he said he didn't feel the need to prepare himself for any emotional letdown getting wrecked as an innocent bystander might cause.

"That's the way it's always been," Earnhardt said. "I didn't feel like we had much control over our own destinies with the package we had last year or the year before. And ever since I've been racing in restrictor-plate racing, you never know when you're going to punch your ticket and be part of the wreck.

"You never know when it's going to be your turn and that's always been the way it is, so you kind of got used to that, over time. With what we saw the other night, the cars don't really handle, so everybody's really brave and that makes for a lot of accidents and really exciting racing."

Video: Earnhardt in the wrong place in Budweiser Shootout

Earnhardt mastered the art of plate racing enough to win seven races between July 2001 and October 2004, including five-of-six in one stretch at Talladega and the 2004 Daytona 500. It definitely puts him in a position to opine on style -- particularly when it created as much destruction as witnessed Saturday night.

"You don't have to move around -- you just hold your damn car where it needs to be and not drive around like an idiot," Earnhardt said of Saturday night's juking and jiving that created three multi-car wrecks and wiped out half the starting field. "If you want to drive your car in a straight line and be sensible it is possible [not to wreck].

"There is no chaos out there. Yes, there are guys moving around, but it's not necessary. They are not doing it because they are hot or there are problems with their engine running hot or anything like that. They are just having a good time. Everybody is enjoying it."

Other than the fans whose favorites' cars were lying, wasted, in the garage that might be a fair assessment of fandom's take on the current style of racing. Earnhardt's locked rock-solid on how he feels about it, based on how his 54 laps in the Shootout went.

"I felt like I was doing a good job [Saturday night], I had control of my race and had potential to win the race if I made all the right moves -- that is all I can ask for," Earnhardt said. "I like this kind of racing better. At least I know what to expect. I feel like I have a better chance with this style than I did last year for damn sure."

And that includes his next race Thursday. As wild as the Shootout's action was and as much as is at stake this weekend, Earnhardt didn't predict any let-off Thursday given the confidence his starting spot gives him.

"Starting on that front row gives you that kind of feeling," Earnhardt said. "[Starting] third on back, you feel like you need to race because somebody's going to try to take your third starting spot in the 500 if that is where we were to end up. Somebody's out there to take it from you in those qualifying races so you have to run hard.

"We're just going to try to go hard because we've got great race cars and we've tried to take care of them and be careful and that's not worked, so we're going to go back to racing. Rick [Hendrick} said he's paid a lot of money to see us up front -- not running around in the back [laughing]."

And for better or worse Earnhardt, whose primary 2011 Daytona 500 car was wrecked less than 20 minutes into Wednesday's practice, forecasts the same as what everyone saw last Saturday, this Sunday in the Great American Race.

"A lot of the same [though] maybe being 500 miles guys might use a little better judgment -- but I wouldn't count on it," Earnhardt said. "It is a heavy duty race, a pretty big deal to win and it's going to be a lot of guys pretty excited about their prospects of winning it. Still, pretty much any car can win. The lottery's still there for the whole field [so] we will just see how it works out."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Budweiser Shootout

Dale had a good car and was doing very well until he was involved in a multi-car wreck with 20 laps remaining.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's a boy!!

Congrats to Kelley and LW on the birth of their baby boy Wyatt Wayne Miller! He weighed in at 8ls 13 oz and 19 1/2 inches long!! He joins big sisters Karsyn and Kennedy.

Budweiser Shootout

Dale Jr. will start 8th in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Watch the race Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

NASCAR Race Hub: Steve Letarte

Sorry I couldn't get the video to post, but here's the link to it. :)

NASCAR Race Hub: Steve Letarte

Danica Patrick gets Daytona 500 spot

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Go ahead and pencil Danica Patrick into the Daytona 500 starting lineup.

Stewart Haas Racing has finalized an alliance with Tommy Baldwin Racing that guarantees Patrick a starting spot in the Sprint Cup opener and keeps her No. 10 car on the track for the entire Cup schedule, team owner Tommy Baldwin said on Tuesday.

Patrick will be locked into the Feb. 26 race with the owner points accumulated last season by TBR driver Dave Blaney, who was 33rd. The top 35 in owner points from last season are guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races, meaning Blaney now will have to qualify his way into the 500 field.

Since Patrick is scheduled to compete in only 10 Cup races while participating full-time in the Nationwide Series, TBR driver David Reutimann will drive the remaining 26 races in the 10 car.

The goal is to keep the 10 locked into the top 35 so Patrick will be guaranteed a starting spot for the first five races of 2013 when she runs her first full Cup schedule.

TBR will receive technical and pit crew support as a part of the deal.

"We've been working on this for a while,'' Baldwin told "Obviously, there were a lot of things we had to work through to make sure we were all on the same page, to make sure we get Danica the most time on the track for 2013 and allow me to show that we're a team to work with."

Baldwin said there were no conflicts with NASCAR or Chevrolet in having Patrick use Hendrick Motorsports engines as all the SHR cars do and having Reutimann use Earnhardt-Childress engines as all TBR cars do.

"We're all Chevrolet,'' Baldwin said. "We're all working toward a primary goal, and that wasn't an issue. Everybody understands what we're trying to do with Chevy and Danica and"

Greg Zipadelli will remain the crew chief for Patrick's Cup races. Baldwin said he and Zipadelli will work with Reutimann in the other 26.

Reutimann will not drive another TBR car in the non-Patrick races. Baldwin said this is all about getting Patrick "prepared for 2013."

Patrick said during a recent test at Daytona International Speedway that, despite showing good speed during her first run in a Cup car, it wasn't worth taking a chance on missing her first Cup race by not purchasing points. She said during the recent media tour in Charlotte, N.C., that there's a "real chance'' she could win the 500 with a little luck.

Being guaranteed a starting spot is the first step.

"There's not that many spots [open],'' Patrick said in mid-January. "You've got cars that they'll put everything into just running this race. I've heard they tend to be pretty quick.

"You don't want to take chances. It's not the right time to do that. Everyone wants to get into the race, and I'm sure [sponsor] GoDaddy would like to be sure of that happening. Eliminating as many questions is probably a safe route."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

JR Motorsports Tabs Whitt For No. 88 Chevy in 2012

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (January 4, 2012) – JR Motorsports' flagship team will compete for a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship with one of the sport’s up-and-coming stars, as Cole Whitt has been tabbed to drive the company’s flagship No. 88 Chevrolet in 2012, team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced today.

Whitt, a 20-year-old native of Alpine, Calif., will also compete for Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors. He comes to JR Motorsports from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he finished ninth in last year’s championship standings with one pole, two top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. To date he is the youngest driver ever to win the USAC (United States Auto Club) National Midget championship, as his title-winning effort in 2008 put him alongside esteemed former USAC national champions such as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.

“Cole is the guy we wanted, and we’re lucky to get him,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “He’s got raw, untapped talent, but we are most impressed with his ambition. I sought advice and input from people I respect in the industry, and the overwhelming consensus was that Cole has the potential to do great things in this sport.”

The signing of Whitt completes the 2012 driver line-up for JR Motorsports, which will compete in Nationwide Series competition with Whitt in the No. 88 Chevrolet, Danica Patrick in the No. 7 Chevrolet, and Earnhardt Jr. in select races in the No. 5 Chevrolet. All three drivers will compete in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 25.

“This is a big opportunity for me, and I’m happy to be a part of the JR Motorsports team,” said Whitt, who was introduced to employees Wednesday morning. “I’m grateful to Dale, Kelley and everyone at JR Motorsports for giving me this chance. It’s an honor to work with the Eurys, and I will do everything in my power to put this No. 88 team where it belongs in Victory Lane.”

Whitt got his start racing karts and saw immediate success with eight International Karting Federation championships and two World Karting Association grand national championships. He was the Hoosier Sprint Car Rookie of the Year in 2006 and earned 34 top-10 finishes in 60 USAC starts in 2007 before winning the championship in 2008. Whitt advanced to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2010, promptly notching two poles and finishing fourth in points in his first year.

OTHER NEWS: JR Motorsports has hired Bruce Cook as crew chief for the No. 5 team, which will run primarily with Earnhardt Jr. in select races. Cook comes to JR Motorsports from Kevin Harvick, Inc., where he served as crew chief in 2011 in the Camping World Truck Series, predominately for the No. 2 KHI Chevrolet, which won the owner’s championship. With Cook atop the pit box, his team scored six wins, 19 top-fives and 22 top-10s. Cook was also the winning crew chief of the Nationwide Series season-opener at Daytona in 2011 with driver Tony Stewart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, New Paint Schemes!

Happy New Year everyone! Sorry it's a little late, but it's been pretty crazy around here. So I was thinking why not get a head start and show you all the two new paint schemes that Dale will be running this year. The National Guard paint scheme is the same, with the Blue hood, roof and deck lid and the sides are white.

The first is the Diet Mt Dew paint scheme. This will be different than what we're used to seeing as the background is silver.

There is one special paint scheme that has been released that Dale will run at Martinsville.
This one is shown below.

After the Lap, Dale Jr: Season in Review, and Dale's speech from the awards banquet

I tried to get the videos to post on here, but they wouldn't load, so here are the links to them.

NASCAR After the Lap from Champion's Week

Awards Banquet: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Season in Review: Dale Jr