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Purple punch: Earnhardt Jr.'s classic North Wilkesboro memory
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't begin his career in NASCAR's premier series until 1999, three years after the series had moved on from North Wilkesboro Speedway. But Earnhardt Jr., a student of NASCAR history, did compete at the .625-mile track, racing a Late Model entry on at least a couple of occasions. "I ran the Sun Drop (sponsored) car there," Earnhardt Jr. recalled. "Actually, I think we went there twice. With the Sun Drop car I remember qualifying 19th or something; I don't remember how many cars were there but I'm sure they sent a few home so it was cool to make the race." The contentment was short-lived. According to Earnhardt , he "T-boned a guy and had to run the rest of the race with no fenders or hood or anything. So it wasn't a whole lot of fun." The following year, all three Earnhardt siblings -- Earnhardt Jr., older brother Kerry and older sister Kelley -- made the trek to the legendary track to compete in the Late Model race. None of the three managed to qualify, a situation that didn't sit well with their father and team owner, Dale Earnhardt . "Dad had assumed that I would make the race because we'd been running so good at Myrtle Beach," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He said, 'You guys run this race' and there was a race at Myrtle Beach that night; he was going to fly us in his King Air to the beach so we could compete that night and stay in the track points (battle)." But when Dale Jr. failed to make the show, "He told me and my guys to screw off, that we had to drive the damn van all the way from North Wilkesboro to Myrtle Beach to try to make the race. "We had to hustle; we barely made it. He was pissed off that all three cars missed the race." MORE: How end of "tire war" started at track Failing to qualify and having to drive all day to that night's race wasn't the only issue. An incident with "questionable" fuel also took place, but Earnhardt Jr. laughs when he recounts the incident today. "I had a jug of trick fuel for my car," he said. "It was a purple gas jug. We kept it in that purple gas jug so we wouldn't mix it up with the other fuel. It was probably Elf fuel or something just to give my car a little more speed. Or it might have had some propylene oxide in there or something. "One of Kerry or Kelley's guys walked over to get some gas for their car and grabbed the purple jug and a fight ensued between their crew and my crew; it sort of let the cat out of the bag that whatever was in that jug was pretty special. That was kind of comical." Something to laugh about, no doubt, on the long drive from the hills of North Wilkesboro to the sands of Myrtle Beach. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Jr. watches dad's Monte Carlo take a lap; more from 'Dega trip
RELATED: See Dale Jr.'s day at Talladega Six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . visited one of his favorite tracks Thursday for an action-packed day of greeting fans, mingling with the Alabama Gang, assisting the track with its landscaping duties and watching his father's No. 2 Chevrolet take a lap around the superspeedway. The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman, sidelined for the rest of the season by concussion-like symptoms, was welcomed by Alabama Gang members Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and short-track legend Red Farmer as an honorary member of the group. The Alabama Gang, with deep roots in stock-car racing's early days, was the nickname earned by a group of notable NASCAR drivers -- the Allisons, Neil Bonnett, and Farmer among them -- with ties to the state. Talladega's back straightaway was named "The Alabama Gang Superstretch" in their honor in the spring of 2014. Although Dale Earnhardt was not a part of the group, he remained great friends with the drivers -- especially Bonnett, a fellow outdoorsman. The group paid tribute to the first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee as Donnie Allison wheeled Earnhardt's famous No. 2 Monte Carlo around the 2.66-mile track. See glimpses from Dale Jr.'s day. We have a VERY special guest with us today surprising some awesome fans! Welcome back to 'Dega, @DaleJr ! pic.twitter.com/ibtEQnnAJ6 — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 . @DaleJr doing some track landscaping and surprising fans at @TalladegaSuperS . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/ptrIfuXW8y — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) September 29, 2016 We have some REALLY cool stuff coming up with @DaleJr and the famed #AlabamaGang ! Keep an eye on Periscope & Facebook Live! pic.twitter.com/fT05pKOgrN — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Donnie, Bobby and Red welcome @DaleJr as an OFFICIAL Honorary Member of the #AlabamaGang ! pic.twitter.com/JjCPAt99FJ — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Dale Sr.'s No. 2 Monte Carlo rides again with Donnie Allison at the wheel! #AlabamaGang https://t.co/HeBNAtQWh8 — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Good times today @TalladegaSuperS promoting the race with the Alabama Gang. Tickets are on sale for the race on October 23rd. pic.twitter.com/vm6OZFTslx — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 I remember this old thing. @TalladegaSuperS Hall of Fame. The carpet is teal, I kid you not. Great choice pops. pic.twitter.com/UMn4RAe34L — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 How cool to rename the MRN booth @TalladegaSuperS in honor of Barney Hall! pic.twitter.com/7u24pIDUnM — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 </p>
Dale Jr. will be on the No. 88 pit box at Dover
RELATED: Full schedule for Dover and Las Vegas Jeff Gordon isn't the only member of Hendrick Motorsports returning to the track this weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr . will also be at Dover International Speedway , but in a much different capacity. Earnhardt Jr. said Monday on "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio that he would be at Dover on Saturday and Sunday, and would sit on the No. 88 pit box on race day. Gordon returns as the substitute driver. "It's going to be kind of different, tough, maybe not a ton of fun," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's a bit weird to be not in the car but at the track when you're a driver. You don't know what to do with yourself. But I'm going to try to support the guys and maybe learn a thing or two. "It's going to be different, but we'll see how it goes." Gordon, who retired following the 2015 season, has driven in six races this year in place of Earnhardt Jr. The four-time premier series champion will split time with Alex Bowman in the No. 88 for the remainder of the season. Earnhardt Jr. also provided an update on his recovery from a concussion. He said he had another evaluation with his doctor last week and continues to make progress. "The only thing that triggers the symptoms is going somewhere I'm unfamiliar, somewhere I've never been … somewhere where it's busy," Earnhardt said. "If I can find a busy place, if I go with (fiancée) Amy (Reimann) to the grocery store … that's basically rehab. "(But) it's getting better. My doctors talk about getting me back to where I can be a normal person, and then there's getting me back to being a race car driver. I'm almost back … to being a normal, functioning person with no issues. To become that guy I need to be inside the car, we really have to train my senses to be perfect." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Jr. posts unedited* video of his "talking" dogs
Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s "talking" dogs, Gus and Junebug, enjoy a level of celebrity that few other dogs have ever reached. Unfortunately, it doesn't really look like the two get along as well as he would probably like. Perhaps because the "dog days" of summer are over? Junior posted this video on Instagram Wednesday of his dogs. We promise this video has in no way been altered from the original. *By unedited, we mean that @nascarcasm actually may have tweaked the video a little bit.
Dale Jr gives health update heading into Dover
Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives a health update on the Dirty Mo Radio as he prepares to head to the race track this weekend to watch Alex Bowman drive his No. 88 car at Dover International Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. injury timeline
Dale Earnhardt Jr . will sit out the rest of the 2016 season, Hendrick Motorsports officials announced Friday. A crash at Michigan International Speedway in Junie is believed to be the cause of Junior's injury, and the ever-popular driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet said he is going to focus on being healthy and ready to compete at the 2017 season opening Daytona 500 . Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman will split fill-in-duty for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 88 car the rest of the 2016 season. Stay up-to-date on Dale Jr.'s injury and recovery through the timeline of events below.
Live-tweeting Dale Jr. is the best kind of Dale Jr.
Sassy Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the best Dale Earnhardt Jr . The No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports wheelman -- who is sitting out the remainder of 2016 to recover from a concussion -- chose to spend his downtime live-tweeting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 . And he didn't disappoint. NASCAR's Most Popular Driver left no topics off the table and talked everything from fast food joints to his woes with autocorrect. Don't have time to head over to Junior's Twitter timeline? NASCAR.com breaks it down, giving you the best of his best. @jeff_gluck calm down — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 New @nationwide88 commercials are ok. ☺️ — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 . @JeffBurton plenty happy with cup driver at the wheel of @NASCARonNBC turd. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 My phone autocorrect trd to turd. https://t.co/Ocn5HPoX6y — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 Let me tell you @RickAllenracing . Do not be so surprised by the @AxaltaRacing 88 team on pit road. Been solid all season son. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 What happened the last time @RyanJNewman was desperate to make the Chase? @NASCARonNBC ⚡️ — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 10, 2016 Anyone notice that old retired guy @JeffGordonWeb in the top 10 wheeling it?? — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 . @NASCARonNBC non stop would be cool companioned with @pandora_radio — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 This is @dennyhamlin home track. Well, accept @MartinsvilleSwy . I guess any track in the state he was born. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 I like @mattkenseth even tho he drives what he drives. Good dude. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 @DaleJr have you ever thought of stop tweeting — Gonzy (@imgonzy) September 11, 2016 I have a pretty good idea of how the @NASCAR overtime works if you need me next week @RickAllenracing — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 One pulled groin and a chipped tooth. Average night for the over the wall guys. @NASCAR #athletes — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 Brad so mad. He's either being so tough or doing this weird underbite thing. What's that about @keselowski ?? pic.twitter.com/0ddqkyykDr — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 Fire the art department except the totally different art department that took @TonyStewart photo. pic.twitter.com/0ZylxCO5Hm — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to miss rest of 2016 season
NASCAR.com's Costner Merrifield gets you Up to Speed as Hendrick Motorsports announced early Friday morning that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not return to competition during the remainder of the 2016 season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says concussion-like symptoms 'plateaued'
RELATED: Gordon will sub longer if needed " Junior injury timeline Dale Earnhardt Jr. provided a health update Saturday morning from his Twitter account, saying the concussion-like symptoms that have forced him to miss three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races "have plateaued over the last week." Earnhardt has been sidelined since the team's announcement July 14 about his condition. Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon have split time driving his Hendrick Motorsport No. 88 Chevrolet in the interim. Update: No change lately. Symptoms have plateaued over the last week. Balance/Gaze Stabilization are only issues. Docs preaching patience. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 30, 2016 Earnhardt said in Tuesday's edition of the " Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio that he was heeding the advice of doctors in taking a slow course of recovery, saying that concussion-related ailments were not conditions that he could "race through" on the track. He reiterated that Saturday, tweeting that his physicians were "preaching patience." Four-time series champ Gordon, who raced his entire career with Hendrick Motorsports, emerged from retirement last weekend at Indianapolis as a substitute. Gordon is back in the No. 88 Chevy at least through this weekend at Pocono Raceway for Monday's Pennsylvania 400 (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Earnhardt said in his podcast that he would have an update on his condition after a Monday visit with doctors. He indicated that would help the Hendrick organization determine its plans for next weekend's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International. The team has said that there is no firm timetable for Earnhardt's return to competition. Gordon said Friday at Pocono that he would serve as an interim driver for as long as the team needed him. Should Gordon return next weekend at Watkins Glen, it would mark his 800th Sprint Cup start. </p>
Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his own words
RELATED: Junior 'not ready to quit' racing Dale Earnhardt Jr . met with members of the media Friday at Watkins Glen International to discuss his health, a potential timeline of his return to racing and many other topics. Here's what he said: ON BEING BACK AT THE TRACK: "It is great to be back and seeing everybody. I'm super nervous coming back. I miss my team and my teammates. Amy (Reimann, fiancée) is gone on a trip for the weekend, so I was at the house by myself and was just looking for some things to do. Figured coming to the track wasn't a bad idea. I get to hang out with my guys a little bit. It just felt so weird not being there, so here we are." IS IT POSSIBLE YOUR DOCTORS WON'T BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU CLEAR DIRECTIVES SO THAT YOU WILL HAVE A BIG DECISION TO MAKE ON YOUR OWN FOR YOUR LONG-TERM HEALTH? "I think my doctors have a good understanding of my history and what I have been through and with their own personal knowledge that they have throughout their careers to give me a clear understanding of when I will be ready to go back and get into a race car. Our intentions are to get cleared and get back to racing. We are just taking it one evaluation at a time. It is frustrating to have to do it that way, but that is the process, and we hope and expect that when we go back for the next evaluation that we are symptom free and can start to see a timeline develop. Until then, we are just taking it one evaluation at a time. Those are typically every two to three to four weeks." YOUR FANS WANT TO KNOW IF THIS HAS BEEN TOUGH EMOTIONALLY ON YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEMED SO STRONG THROUGH THIS: "I just want to get better. You put everything ... nothing else is really a priority except for just getting the symptoms to clear up and get back to feeling like yourself. That is all that I am thinking about. The process isn't as fast as you would like it to be. I talk to my doctor every other day, sometimes for an hour or two about the psychological side of it because it can become very frustrating and obviously being a race car driver, we don't have a lot of patience to begin with. This is a challenge. But we've got some great doctors, and I really believe and trust what they are telling me. I am confident and positive that they tell me without question that we are going to get back to normal." SINCE THIS PROCESS FIRST STARTED, HAVE YOU PERSONALLY CONSIDERED WHETHER YOU SHOULD CONSIDER RACING, OR HAVE THAT DISCUSSION BETWEEN YOU AND AMY, OR EVEN WITH JUST YOURSELF? "No. My doctor thinks that to get through the therapy and to get through the symptoms you don't need to be adding stress to your life. The stress will slow down the process. So, going into those kinds of conversations aren't even necessary at this particular point. The point right now is just to get healthy. Just to get right. I'm not thinking about the what-ifs. I'm just listening to my doctors. ... My doctors feel great about the opportunity that I will not only be healthy again, but they can actually make my brain stronger to be able to withstand these common events. The event that I had at Michigan which they have tied this concussion to, I shouldn't have had a concussion from. I should be able to get through events like that without having any issues. So, they are not only working to get me healed up, but are working to make it to where I can compete and go through events like that without any concern." ON GETTING CORRECT INFORMATION ABOUT HIS CONDITION TO EVERYONE: "I think the podcast was just a great outlet for us to give updates. People are wondering; people are curious so that was a great avenue for us. It is effective. I don't mind being honest about what is going on and I think that is maybe helped some people to when they are going through the same situation. The one thing I worry the most about and I think I said on the podcast is that I don't like people to make assumptions on where I am at and how I am doing and what I am up to." IS IT YOUR EXPECTATION TO BE BACK IN THE CAR AS SOON AS YOU ARE SYMPTOM FREE? "I don't know what the doctor would choose there. Whether you could go symptom free and go immediately back in the car. Or if they would maybe want you to be symptom free for a week or two weeks. I don't know what he will do. We haven't really talked about that. I personally would like to get in a race car and drive it at a closed course somewhere. Whether that is one of my late models, or if NASCAR would lift the restrictions on the testing policy to go to Gresham or someplace I want to get in the car and run for a day. I think I should do that." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW FRUSTRATING THE ANXIETY-SIDE OF THIS HAS BEEN? ALSO, HOW HAS THE SUPPORT OF YOUR FANS HELPED YOU? "I'd love to speak on the support. It's been awesome. All the NASCAR fans are supportive of all the drivers when they find themselves in situations that are challenging. It's been no different. That's helped me a lot and gave me a lot of motivation to get back and get back in the car. Even hearing from not only the fans, but also the other drivers and my peers is such a positive motivation. The more of that I see, the better. I think it helps me keep going and keep working hard and take my therapy seriously. YOU'VE BEEN A BIG ADVOCATE FOR PEOPLE WITH CONCUSSIONS IN THE SPORTS WORLD. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER DRIVERS THAT MIGHT HAVE THE SAME SYMPTOMS BUT ARE AFRAID TO STAND UP TO IT? "It's really hard, as a driver, to say that you've got a problem. And it's hard to tell someone what to do in that situation. If you're not feeling good; for me, I was sort of scared straight into getting checked out. When I got hurt in 2012, it was so severe and my body changed and my mind changed so much, I just had to get it looked at. I couldn't go every day trying to self-manage my issues. And I just feel like, hopefully, anytime anybody gets dinged-up, or realized that they're just not right, or they're foggy, or whatever their symptoms are, that they would reach out to a neurologist and get checked out. And there's easy access with our sport. We've got a lot of great people that are part of the sport and who have been part of the sport for a long time, that handle those issues and can get you to the right people. "It's hard because you basically put yourself out there to be pulled out of the car. But man, your quality of life is so important. Your health beyond your driving career is so important. If you plan on having a family, or have a family already, those things are going to be a priority." OUTSIDE OF NASCAR, HAVE ANY OTHER PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES REACHED OUT TO YOU TO TALK ABOUT CONCUSSIONS? DO YOU FEEL LIKE MAYBE YOU OPEN A DOOR FOR OTHER SPORTS TO MAYBE LOOK AT CONCUSSIONS MORE SERIOUSLY FOR OTHER ATHLETES? "I don't know. I just know I'm trying to take care of myself. I've talked to a lot of drivers. I've talked to a lot of people. You get in this situation and a lot of people reach out and a lot of people have their own experiences that they want to share. And when you're going through that, you definitely want to share your experience with people who have had a common experience." IS IT AMAZING TO YOU HOW FAR WE HAVE ADVANCED MEDICALLY? "I think about that. I'm so thankful that there is knowledge and there is rehabilitation that is specific to what I have going on. There is just not this umbrella of treatment that they sort of give to everybody. They have specific ways to help and heal specific types of concussions and certain symptoms. That is why I think I enjoy talking to my doctor so often and going to see him so often is because you have so many questions. Every day you get a new concern or a new question and you really can't wait to get in the room and be able to talk to him about it. For them to have the knowledge they have today versus where we were 10 or 20 years ago is something I am very thankful for." YOU'VE HAD A GREAT CAREER IF IT CAME TO THAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER? HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IT FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE? "What? You didn't say the word. (Laughs)" RETIREMENT? "When I went to see Dr. Petty for the first time in 2012 and then he set me up with the guys in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) they told me that our process was to get better and go back to racing. This one is no different. When I first went to see my doctor in this particular instance it was 'I need to get right because I need to get back in the car as soon as I can.' I'm surprised that I've missed this many races. ... I have every intention of honoring my current contract. I sat with Rick (Hendrick) before this happened a couple of months ago to talk about an extension. That is the direction that we are going. As soon as I can get healthy and get confident in how I feel and feel like I can drive a car and be great driving it then I want to drive. I want to race. I miss the competition. I miss being here. I miss the people and as Rick likes to say 'We've got unfinished business.' I'm not ready to stop racing. I'm not ready to quit." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;