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;
Sense of rejuvenation for Ronnie Bassett Jr ., team with his first K&N win
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Ronnie Bassett Jr . sat in contemplation last May, having rushed to witness first-hand the devastating fire that tore through his family-owned team's race shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While thankfully no one was injured, the material loss was heavy, with little to salvage in the way of cars, tools, equipment and the team's hauler. Sifting through cinders in the days after the blaze, Bassett said he wondered what would come next for him and his brother, Dillon, a pair of next-generation racers. "We were sitting there scratching our heads," Bassett says. "We didn't know whether we were going to be able to race again the rest of that season or what." Sunday night, nearly nine months after their loss, came victory. The 21-year-old Bassett emerged from a frantic second half of the season-opening Jet Tools 150 to score his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory at New Smyrna Speedway. The win also soothed the heartbreak of last year's K&N opener, where an official scoring check after the checkered flag kept Bassett from Victory Lane. Bassett's convincing victory, which included a late-race stretch of running 1-2 with his brother, belies the adversity that his family has faced. Working with insurance to rebuild their own shop has been a gradual process, and the family racing operation is now spread over three buildings in their hometown -- a small warehouse for primary cars, a shed for parts and another space serving as a makeshift fabrication shop. "We're just trying to make it happen," said Ronnie Bassett Sr., who enjoyed a successful career in the Sportsman division at Bowman Gray Stadium. "They don't have much to work out of. It's a tight spot, I can tell you that." What has helped has been a devoted crew, and fellow racers David Calabrese and Brandon Gdovic lending a hand with equipment to help the team finish out 2016 with a part-time slate. "We just prayed to the good Lord about it to see what needed to be done," Bassett Jr . said. "It kind of worked out. We have more than what we had when we were working out of our other shop. We've been blessed with a lot of great people." Bassett Jr . led the final 42 laps, sweating through a pair of red flags for accidents, including a final stack-up near the front of the field that knocked his brother and NASCAR Next driver Tyler Dippel from contention. It marked the first laps led in a K&N East career that's spanned 40 races since 2013. Though Bassett Jr . amassed a three-second lead on the half-mile track over the closing laps, he and his father remained antsy. Intense racing behind him threatened a late caution, and then there were the reminders of the mix-up from last season. Bassett actually crossed under the checkered flag first at New Smyrna in 2016, emerging from a three-car fracas with Todd Gilliland and Spencer Davis. But race officials determined that an extra lap had been inadvertently run beyond the scheduled distance, handing the victory to Gilliland. There was no doubt Sunday night. "I had a counter in my hand tonight," Bassett Sr. said with a laugh. "We were definitely watching the flagstand, that's for sure. It's all good, though." For his son, the victory was a needed boost after a long dry spell. Bassett had two runner-up efforts sprinkled among his nine previous top-five finishes, including a third place at New Smyrna last year. After leaving the Florida half-mile with trophy in hand, Bassett said the sense of rejuvenation was real. "It's been very, very tough on myself -- I went from running good in Late Model Stocks and then coming to these things, it's like punching myself in the heart," Bassett Jr . said, adding that the family plans a full K&N East schedule in its rebuilding year. "To come back and have a good race car and lead laps tonight, it builds my confidence back to know that I can still do it."
Earnhardt Jr . would consider walking away as a champion
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! MORE: Watch Media Day live stream presented by NAPA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . sat on stage for his Daytona 500 Media Day interview session Wednesday morning and at the end of his 20-plus minutes taking questions, he conceded that if he were to win the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title, he would at least consider stepping away from full-time competition after this season. Earnhardt, who will start on the front row for the Daytona 500 , is returning to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup competition for the first time since last July -- sitting out the second half of the 2016 season while recovering from concussion-like symptoms. WATCH: The full interview with Junior The two-time Daytona 500 winner and restrictor-plate racing expert refused to call himself a shoo-in for Sunday's trophy even though he likes his chances. But he did allow that hoisting NASCAR's season-ending trophy may just present the ultimate racing exit for the newly married 42-year-old. "Hell yeah. I would definitely not want to come back and race anymore if I won the championship, I'd be outta of here," he said smiling. "I've always wanted to win a championship so badly. And coming back from this injury, we've worked so hard. So to come back this year and win the championship, it would be hard not to hang it up. "This is the last year of my deal. I would like to race more, but if I won the championship I'd have to consider going out on top." MORE: Junior on marriage " And Ken Squire, broadcasting Earnhardt smiled as he spoke but did pause often to reflect and think. The sport's 14-time -- and reigning -- Most Popular Driver has four top-five finishes in the championship standings, the last a fifth place in 2013. His father, the late Dale Earnhardt, won seven championship trophies, and his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson just won his seventh in November. "It just really depends on a lot of different things," Earnhardt said, reflecting on the idea of the 2017 championship. "I said that a little tongue in cheek yesterday (that he would retire), but I'd definitely consider it because that's the last box I don't have checked really. "There's a few races I'd like to win. But the championship would definitely be the icing on the cake for my career." &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;gt;
Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Daytona 500 history
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! See how Dale Earnhardt Jr . has fared in the Daytona 500 here .
Earnhardt Jr . contemplates going out on top
During Daytona 500 Media Day Dale Earnhardt Jr . said he would consider going out on top if he were to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in 2017.
Earnhardt Jr . qualifying success a family tradition
Dale Earnhardt Jr . qualifies well at restrictor-plate tracks in part because of secrets passed down from his father, Dale Earnhardt. He recounts his first on-track lesson on his weekly podcast.
Watch Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s full interview at Media Day
Catch Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s entire Daytona Media Day interview as he addresses questions regarding retirement, the Daytona 500 and his eventful off-season.
From The Vault: Earnhardt Jr .'s 2014 Daytona 500 win
Relive the final restart of the 2014 Daytona 500 that saw Dale Earnhardt Jr . win his second Great American Race.
Father-son Nemechek duo set to compete at Daytona
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- NASCAR has always been known as a family sport where the love of racing has been passed from generation to generation. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) NextEra Energy Resources 250 at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 24, John Hunter Nemechek will have the opportunity few sons have enjoyed: competing against his father, 1992 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Joe Nemechek . Should both Nemecheks qualify for the race, it would be the first time a father and son have competed in the same NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since Dave Blaney and Ryan Blaney started the 2013 Inaugural Mudsummer Classic at the Eldora Speedway . It will also be the first time a father and son have competed in any of NASCAR's top three series at the Daytona International Speedway since the 2006 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr . The Nemecheks will even be running for the same team -- family-owned NEMCO Motorsports -- which will field John Hunter Nemechek full-time in the No. 8 Fire Alarm Services, Inc., Chevrolet for 2017, and will also field Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 Fleetwing Chevrolet in a select number of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek have competed against each other on the race track just three times before, twice in the Allison Legacy Race Series, and once in the ARCA Midwest Tour. The first time the duo competed against each other was in the Allison Legacy Race Series at the Concord Speedway in 2011 where the son finished first, and the father second. In a rematch at the Carolina Motorsports Park John Hunter Nemechek finished third, and Joe Nemechek finished fourth. The other was in an ARCA Midwest Tour event at the Milwaukee Mile in 2013, where neither driver won but experience outran youth. John Hunter Nemechek , who posted two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories and captured his first pole award during the 2016 season, may be at a disadvantage in Daytona. Joe Nemechek has comprehensive experience at the "World Center of Racing," having five pole awards and two victories (1998, 2002), four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . In addition, he has the all-time NASCAR XFINITY Series most starts record, including the most laps completed record, and number of pole awards record at the Daytona International Speedway . Across the top three NASCAR divisions Nemechek has 74 total starts at the Daytona Beach, Florida, facility. The NextEra Energy Resources 250 will mark NEMCO Motorsports' fourth and fifth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway. Joe Nemechek posted a team best finish of eighth-place at the Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2014. The elder Nemechek last competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015 at the Texas Motor Speedway , finishing in the sixth-place. It is not unusual for family to compete against one another in NASCAR's premier series as sets of brothers have been the norm rather than the exception. Joe Nemechek competed together with younger brother John Nemechek in three ( Watkins Glen International , Phoenix International Raceway and Walt Disney World Speedway) NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. This will be the second NASCAR season-opening event Joe Nemechek has competed against Nemechek lineage. In the 1997 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opener at the Walt Disney World Speedway, Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 finished nine positions ahead of John Nemechek in the No. 8 -- both as owner-driver entries. Both father and son have collected victories, pole awards, and claimed the title of Most Popular Driver in their respective series, but only Joe Nemechek has claimed the series championship trophy. Without the dedication Joe Nemechek has had towards his son's career, John Hunter Nemechek knows he might not have had the chance to show his talents, and have the opportunity to team up with his dad at the Daytona International Speedway . Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek look to add their names to the short list of fathers and sons who have won races head-to-head in NASCAR's premier series, and be listed alongside Lee and Richard Petty, Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., and Buck and Buddy Baker.
Earnhardt Jr . returns to action in Daytona practice
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Junior reacts to first laps of '17 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Great patience surpassed high anticipation surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to the race track Saturday morning at Daytona International Speedway . Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports crew was still working feverishly on his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet in the garage area as his competitors rolled out for Daytona 500 opening practice. Earnhardt, meanwhile, stood back still wearing a ball cap, his arms crossed as he alternated between glancing at the scoring screen and watching his team prep the car -- computers on the roof, hood up. About 30-40 fans lined up four- and five-deep in the fan area behind the garage while a dozen photographers waited just outside his stall. The two-time Daytona 500 winner put his helmet on 30 minutes into the session and climbed into the car for his first official practice laps since July of 2016. (He missed the final 18 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races of 2016 because of a concussion.) And then just as it looked like he would join competition for the first time in seven months, a caution flag came out for debris. Earnhardt was the 36th car to roll onto the track, nearly 50 minutes into the almost four-hour session. His first lap was 17th-fastest at 190.504 mph. He finished the session in 11th place at 192.67 mph. Joey Logano led the practice, which was in preparation for Sunday's single-car, two-round qualifying (3:10 p.m. ET, FOX). Earnhardt ended the session with the 11th-fastest lap and some invaluable confidence being back in the driver seat again. "It felt good to just get out there and get to work a little bit and be with the guys and see all the familiar faces in the garage, other drivers and team members and so forth," Earnhardt said following Saturday's nearly four-hour practice. "Just trying to put as many laps as I can behind me and get further and further into this deal to where the events from last year become more of a distant memory and don't define me as who I am so much anymore. It will be good to get in the car and get some good wins and good finishes under our belt this season. That is our plan." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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