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Dale Jr. regales podcast listeners with family storytime
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Editor's note: The full Dale Jr. Download podcast can be found here . Dale Earnhardt Jr . turned his weekly Dale Jr. Download podcast into family storytime where he spoke for more than 50 minutes regaling listeners with tales of his famous father and the Earnhardt family history at the Daytona 500 . Among the gems Earnhardt Jr. shared was the story of how his father, Dale Earnhardt, taught him how to be fast in qualifying. As Earnhardt Jr. tells it, when he was 16 years old, working in a dealership changing oil, his dad called and told him to come to Talladega, where he was testing. Earnhardt was testing new V8 engines for the XFINITY Series, and told his son to take the wheel for a few turns around Talladega Superspeedway . Junior was astonished to be keeping time with his father during his first lap. "So then I get out there and open the wheel up and get out to the fence on the straightaway, drive it down into the corner," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm letting the wheel kind of do what it wants to do on bumps -- and I ran a second slower." As soon as he came in, his father stopped him. "What the hell are you doing?" he asked. "Well, I'm letting the car feed out off the corner against the wall," Junior responded. "Don't do that, you're adding feet to the lap," his father scolded. "I let the wheel be loose in my hands, kind of let it do its thing through the bumps," Junior continued. "Don't do that; hold it solid and steady," his father reminded. RELATED: See Dale Jr's Daytona 500 history That experience changed how Earnhardt Jr. approaches qualifying -- and what helped him to qualify second for Sunday's Daytona 500 . "What I do now when I go to qualify is I hold the wheel as hard as I can and I do not let it move when the car goes through a bump," Earnhardt Jr. said. "And I run pretty tight, which everybody does now; everybody's figured that out." Earnhardt Jr. also recounted some of his favorite moments from past Daytona 500 s. Among those he talked about: * The 2000 Daytona 500 , which was the first he saw in person -- and the first he raced in. "I felt like I had joined a fraternity," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I was on the starting grid looking around at guys like Terry Labonte and Dale Jarrett and going, 'Wow, I can't believe I'm here.' " That was also a race where his father wasn't happy that his son didn't work with him. Earnhardt finished 21st while Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th. "After the race he was very upset with me that I did not work with him," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I said, 'I don't want to work with nobody, I'm trying to get to the front.' ... He said, 'No wonder neither one of us did any good, you wouldn't work with anybody.' I said, 'You're not my responsibility, Dad.' He always took it out on me. When we raced together, if he had a bad day, in some way, it was my fault." * The 1998 Daytona 500 , which was his father's only victory in the race, despite 34 triumphs at the track. Earnhardt Jr. missed the race because he was recovering from a concussion. * The 1990 Daytona 500 , when Earnhardt blew a tire on Turn 3 of the final lap, and ended up finishing fifth. "What a badass," Junior said of his father. "Drove a damn car into Turn 3 with no right rear tire at 190 mph and didn't even hit the wall." * The 1979 Daytona 500 , which was his father's rookie season. Earnhardt finished eighth. "It's so funny how they talked about him then (compared to) how we know him and remember him now," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He wasn't the Intimidator. He was a young guy racing with the veterans." Earnhardt Jr. also had one more comment about his family's history at the Daytona 500 : "We got a lot of great history in Daytona. Hoping we can go down here and have some success and add to those wins. I'd love to go down there and pass Tony Stewart and be second (for most all-time wins at Daytona International Speedway )." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
What's in a Number? Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 dominance
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! The 59th annual Daytona 500 is just around the corner, so we sifted through the numbers on Racing Reference to find some interesting tidbits for you to chew on while you wait for the Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) running of The Great American Race. 10 Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads active drivers with 10 victories on restrictor-plate tracks. That's double the amount for the next-closest competitors, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson , who have five apiece. Two of Junior's 10 restrictor-plate wins have come in the Daytona 500 , his last being in 2014. 9 Dale Earnhardt Jr . also leads active drivers with nine second-place finishes in restrictor-plate races. Tony Stewart had eight, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson all tied at six apiece. So in 19 of Junior's 67 restrictor-plate races, he has finished either in first or second place. RELATED: More restrictor-plate stats 1967 The last time the Daytona 500 was run on Feb. 26 was 1967, and the winner was Mario Andretti. It was Andretti's only win in 14 NASCAR premier series starts. He drove for Holman-Moody and beat Fred Lorenzen in a race that ended under caution. Andretti, of course, was better known for his open-wheel career. No. 11 When Andretti won the Daytona 500 he was driving the No. 11 car. That number has been on the Daytona 500 -winning car just two other times: In 1977, eventual NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough drove it to Victory Lane. Last year, Denny Hamlin won in the race's closest finish ever (.010 seconds over Martin Truex Jr .). RELATED: Stats by car number 22 The number of DNFs for Michael Waltrip in his restrictor-plate racing career, tying him with Bobby Labonte for third-most all-time. However, Waltrip has the most starts in restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega with 108 and has won four times, including twice in the Daytona 500 (2001 and '03). Waltrip will be making the final start of his career in this year's Daytona 500 .
Ryan Sieg's Darlington scheme honors Dale Jarrett
RELATED: Full Darlington coverage " Throwback paint schemes Sugar Hill, GA (August 29, 2016) - RSS Racing is pleased to announce that Tri County Landscape will return as a primary sponsor for three more races in 2016 starting at Darlington Raceway . In addition to Darlington, TCL will be on the No. 39 car at Richmond and Charlotte. At Darlington, the team will run a special throwback paint scheme resembling the famous colors that Dale Jarrett ran in the late '90s. Ryan Sieg commented, "I'm thrilled to have TCL back for three more races and I'm honored to drive this special color scheme at Darlington. Growing up, our family always stayed at the same condo in Daytona as Robert Yates, Dale Jarrett , and their team. He was always one of my favorites and I think I even got tossed in the pool by DJ a few times one year! Needless to say, this will be a fun weekend for everyone involved." Sieg continues to hold down the 12th spot in points with three races left before the Chase begins for NASCAR's XFINITY Series. The RSS team will have two practices on Friday before qualifying and racing Saturday at Darlington. Dale Jarrett's red-white-and-blue paint scheme from 1997
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: What they're writing about his return
RELATED: Junior busy in final Daytona practice Dale Earnhardt Jr . isn't the same person we saw in a race car July 9 at Kentucky, his last of 2016 before stepping aside with concussion-related symptoms. He's much better, he told NASCAR.com . He's a husband now after marrying girlfiend Amy Reimann on New Year's Eve. And he's on the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500. But how we got from July to February has had fans transfixed and reporters writing a whole lot about the journey. Here are some of the best stories and tidbits from Junior’s recovery and return. Junior sees himself as altered in significant ways, telling the New York Times, "I do feel like this is a new chapter, for whatever reason. I don't have a vision for what's going to happen. I don't know how to explain it, but it feels like a new me." And that new man is less stressed out and more at ease in every aspect of his life. " Read more Tommy Tomlinson captures the soul of the driver and the images from Junior’s test session this winter at Darlington. And goes deep into what makes our sport's perennial NMPA Most Popular Driver tick. One key piece of the new-and-improved Dale Jr. is Amy. Now his wife, she told Tomlinson she often provides Earnhardt with confidence and stays close, especially in stressful situations: "I'm his binky." But she's much more than that, and he gives her credit for improving every relationship in his life. " Read more A tale about brisket and pickled eggs from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! shows us yet again how forthright and just, well, normal Dale Earnhardt Jr . is -- even when his life felt like it was spinning far out of that normal range. " Read more The days of dizziness and blurry vision were nightmares for Junior, who told USA Today's Brant James exactly how hard it was fighting back from wrecks at Michigan and Daytona. "My eyes were jumping around in my head real bad just riding down the street or in the car," Earnhardt said. "Like a road sign jumping around. It was so annoying. I was scared to death I was going to be stuck with that all my life." " Read more Friends and colleagues MartinTruex Jr. and Elliott Sadler tell Bob Pockrass of ESPN all about how grueling the exercises were to bring Junior back. And Pockrass writes what everyone in NASCAR is feeling: "When Earnhardt rolls off Sunday for the Daytona 500, the industry will celebrate it as an accomplishment of a race car driver and also with a huge selfish deep breath that the sport is whole again." " Read more Junior's return to racing is a victory for him, for the sport and for fans. SB Nation sums it up : "It's always more compelling when its favorite son is in the news for what he’s doing on the track."
At place of peace, Dale Jr. still 'craves' racing
DAYTONA 500 : Starting lineup " Race-day schedule " Key info RELATED: Junior fulfilled with his career numbers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- He tested at Phoenix earlier this year, qualified on the outside of the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and on Thursday he led the bulk of his Can-Am Duel qualifying race before finishing fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr . is officially back. Today marks his return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , and no one is more pleased about it than the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . "I really had fun," Earnhardt said Thursday evening after a strong return at a track where he's typically one of a handful of drivers expected to run well. "I hated to lose but still we have to be aware of how far we've come to get back here. To go out there and lead all those laps and be able to make some good smart moves, it felt great." The road back has been a long one for the 42-year-old Earnhardt, who missed the final 18 races of 2016 while recovering from a concussion. It marked the second time he had been sidelined by such an injury, and he admitted there were times he questioned what his racing future held. RELATED: Junior emerges from injury stronger, centered and ready to win "There was a lot of time during the recovery where there were days I was 90 percent sure I wasn't going to drive again," he said. "There were days when it was 50 percent. It was just moving all over the place depending on what I felt that day. Your recovery is up and down, you have good days and bad days. … "When it came down to it, I had to decide for myself if I wanted to drive anymore. I'm not going to race because of any other reason than I want to be out there." Earnhardt will roll off second alongside Elliott, the pole winner, for the 59th running of the Daytona 500. He is a two-time winner of the "Great American Race" and one of the favorites based on past success and this year's efforts thus far. RELATED: Chronicling Junior's return to racing " Dale Jr. in the 500 Restrictor-plate races are breeding grounds for multi-car crashes, with cars running two-, three- and sometimes four-wide, a dozen or more rows deep at 200-plus mph. Earnhardt doesn't dwell on the possibility of another accident and what might result. "I don't want to wreck to sort of quantify my recovery," he said. "I think should that happen and I come out the other side of it feeling great, that will add a ton of confidence. I can't sit here and say that I know exactly how I'm going to react in those situations with confidence. So yeah, when I go through that process, there's a box or two to check that aren't checked yet." Three-time series champion Tony Stewart hung up his NASCAR uniform at the end of the '16 season. Two of Stewart's final four years driving for Stewart-Haas Racing were cut short due to injuries the Columbus, Indiana, native suffered in non-NASCAR events. But there was no apprehension about climbing back in the car following lengthy recovery periods, he said. "Never. It was more excitement to get back because you have to remember, we're drivers," Stewart, the winner of 49 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, said. "That's what we want to do, drive. "When you have an injury, all it is is a pain in the ass. It's keeping you from doing what you want to do. That's why you heard so many drivers praise Junior last year (when) he chose not to run. And that's hard." Fellow driver Martin Truex Jr . has a close relationship with Earnhardt -- the two were teammates from 2004-07 at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and spend time away from the track each fall on hunting trips. "I know he's got a lot on his shoulders," Truex said. "A lot of people put a lot of pressure on him, obviously. I think in a lot of ways he sometimes feels like he needs to be here for other people. But hopefully he made the decision based on what's best for him. I think he did. I know he's excited about racing still. He obviously still loves it and wants to do it and hopefully things will all work out for him." It has been 20 races since Earnhardt won his last race and just five -- due to his shortened '16 season -- since his last top five. Sunday affords the opportunity to reset both those streaks. After that? He's yet to win a championship at NASCAR's top level, but has finished as high as third. And, yes, he did say if he wins the title in '17 "it would be hard to not call it a career." RELATED: Earnhardt Jr. would consider walking away as champion He has a new outlook and seems to be at peace with the road he's traveled. For the longest time, he said "I let racing be who I was instead of what I did. "Like Richard Petty said, I've got a whole other life beyond driving and I really believe that," Earnhardt said. "I've got a lot of things I'd love to do. Even outside of having a family, there are a lot of things in business that I'd love to see if I could succeed at. I think we got a glimpse of what that would be like; it looks pretty awesome." For now, though, the Daytona 500 and another season of crisscrossing the country await. And Earnhardt is more than OK with that. "Like I said, I crave to drive the car," he said. "I love the position I'm in with the team I'm with, (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the guys, and until that feeling … and that 'want' to be there is gone, I want to keep going." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Earnhardt Jr. busy in final Daytona 500 tune-up
RELATED: Final practice results In Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, Dale Earnhardt Jr . ran 30 laps at Daytona International Speedway , second only to the 36 posted by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne . The No. 88 team changed from a qualifying engine to the race engine after practice on Friday, a practice customary at the Daytona 500. But Earnhardt found his car less responsive with the new engine; in addition, the car developed a slight vibration that led to the team changing drive shafts in the car. "We changed the motor and went to the race engine today, took the qualifying motor out last night," Earnhardt explained. "I thought our car was a little better yesterday in practice. In the pack, it would develop runs a little bit better. It just seemed like I had to get a little luckier today with what was happening behind me, where yesterday the car would do some things or develop some things kind of on its own. "The thing about that is every time you get out there -- you might not even change anything -- it just depends on what kind of pack you get in, what kind of cars are around you, and your car's performance can change and kind of fool you a little bit. I'm just hoping that today was a little more laid back, not quite as many cars out there, not quite as active in the draft, and maybe that’s why we didn't see our car respond like it did yesterday." RELATED: Junior's Daytona 500 history The vibration was of particular concern. "You worry about that, because any kind of thing that is out of balance is going to hurt that straight-line speed," Earnhardt said. "We tried to work on that and were able to fix it right there on that last run. It's just simple stuff like flipping drive shafts and things like that. "You want to get all that out of there so you don't have any doubts about anything holding your car back. Otherwise, it's been really uneventful. We haven't had any issues or problems with the car mechanically, and nothing happened on the race track, so it looks like we are going to get this thing on the grid tomorrow and ready to go." The change in drive shafts won't affect Earnhardt's second-place starting position on Sunday.
Logano nabs victory in 'The Clash' after wild final lap
RELATED: Results " SHOP: Logano gear BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 Live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- When Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin collided in Turn 2 on the final lap of Sunday's rain-delayed Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway , Joey Logano was there to seize the moment. Charging to the outside and grabbing the lead near the entry to the Superstretch at the 2.5-mile speedway, Logano took the checkered flag 1.121 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Busch , who beat third-place finisher Alex Bowman to the stripe by .018 seconds. Danica Patrick dodged the Turn 2 melee to surge from 10th to fourth on the final lap to post her first top-five finish in any Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, though the result is not official because "The Clash" is an exhibition event with a limited field. Kevin Harvick , driving a Ford for the first time at NASCAR's highest level, came home fifth. Daniel Suarez , in his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, finished eighth. Logano's victory was the first in "The Clash" for a Ford driver since Dale Jarrett took the checkered flag in 2004. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas settled into the first four spots after a restart on Lap 65, but Team Penske teammates Keselowski and Logano sped toward the front in the outside lane, successfully side-drafted and broke up the Camry armada. The race was decided when Keselowski challenged defending winner Hamlin for the lead on the final lap. Keselowski, who came home sixth, powered his Ford to the bottom of Turn 2. Hamlin tried to protect his position, and the cars collided, Hamlin's Toyota spinning wildly and Keselowski's Ford losing momentum off the corner. Logano pulled out to a 100-yard lead and maintained it as Busch and Bowman battled side-by-side behind him. "That was the play," Logano said of the side-drafting strategy. "The Toyotas are so selfless, I guess is the way to look at it. They're able to work together and think of one car winning, and they're really good at that. "We had to think that same way as Ford (drivers), and we Stewart-Haas and the Penske cars, we were able to get a good enough run to work together enough to break them up and make the passes, and then there at the end, it was kind of a mess. "Everything was going really fast, and I was just in the right place at the right time." Even though "The Clash" featured a mandatory caution at Lap 25, and even though the cars had been set up for racing under the lights, drivers were uniformly aggressive in the opening segment, often running three-wide in an attempt to gain track position. On Lap 17, Kurt Busch fell victim to a handling problem with reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson got loose in Turn 4 and spun into the right rear of Busch's No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, turning Busch hard into the outside wall. "I was just minding my own business in the low groove and we got tagged in the right rear," Kurt Busch said after exiting the Infield Care Center. "It's kind of a shame -- all of the hard work and the effort everybody puts into the off-season -- Doug Yates and his engines and everybody from Ford and everybody at Stewart-Haas, all of the effort put toward building a car and we didn't even make it to the first pit stop, so it's kind of a bummer." Johnson car survived that wreck, but the handling remained evil, and on Lap 49 he spun again off Turn 4 and clobbered the inside wall near the entrance to pit road. The wreck put Johnson out of the race, his sixth straight DNF in the season-opening exhibition event. With 14 laps left, Martin Truex Jr . tried to fill a hole that wasn't there and clipped the right front of Kyle Larson 's No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Truex spun in Turn 3, rocketed toward the outside wall and caught the left rear of Chris Buescher 's No. 37 Chevrolet, which needed two trips to pit road to repair the damage. That wreck set up the wild 11-lap run to the finish that saw the opportunistic Logano take advantage of the last-lap tangle between Keselowski and Hamlin. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Relive Dale Jarrett's first career win at MIS
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Dale Jr. talks emotional return to racing
Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks about his emotional return and the support shown from all racing fans at Daytona International Speedway.
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