When tickets were released for Dale Earnhardt Jr. autograph session at the NASCAR Hall of Fame I wasn’t sure if I would attend but I decided to reserve my tickets any how. I was able to reserve his tickets as well as tickets for Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Chase Elliot. If I was unable to attend I knew there would be fans that I could give the tickets away to. The event was still two weeks away so I had time to decide. It’s 6 hours of driving each way for maybe 30 seconds to visit with the driver. The following week I decided that if my GF wanted to go meet Dale Jr. we would go. I knew that she wouldn’t enjoy a full day of autograph sessions so I gave away my other tickets and we were going to just attend the one Dale Jr. session
She has attended meet and greets for singers: Martina McBride and Olivia Newton-John. These singers spent time talking to her and taking pics with her. The Friday before the event I told her not to expect to much from the autograph session. Usually you get a couple of seconds in front of Dale Jr. while he signs one item and then you are moved along.
We made the long drive Saturday morning and arrived just before the session was entering the theater where the sessions took place. We were in the middle of the line about @100 fans in front of us. As the session progressed I watched as Dale Jr. spent time with everyone. he was smiling, looking each fan, saying “hi” or “thanks” and even more surprising he was taking pics with fans.
As we got into the autograph line I reach into my pocket and I did not have the gift I was going to hand Dale Jr. He is getting into BBQ and I picked up one of the dry rubs that I used on pork. I quickly ran back to my seat, found the rub and got back in line just as my GF was in front of him. She handed him 2 cars to sign and he signed both! Seeing that I had returned she asked if she could get a photo taken. Dale Jr. said “sure”
Then I was next, I had place an old “hero card” down on the table and one of the other drivers was checking it out. I told him that was Dale Jr. when he was a kid. Jr. saw the photo and said: “I was just a kid then”
He then sign his 2014 Daytona 500 win car. Before I left I handed him the dry rub. The label reads: “Rub A Butt”. When Jr. saw the label he said: “What!” I told him it was dry rub for BBQ. He said : “thanks, I’ll try it.”
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but for Dale Jr. that outgoing. He is reserve around new people and being as popular as he is I can understand why. Everyone wants a “piece” of him. He is the main reason why NASCAR is still around. His fans are loyal and dedicated. I am one of them and without us NASCAR would suffer. We are all hoping 2015 continues where 2014 left off with more win this year.
Jeff Gordon’s full statement on final full-time season
“As a race car driver, much of what I’ve done throughout my life has been based on following my instincts and trying to make good decisions. I thought long and hard about my future this past year and during the offseason, and I’ve decided 2015 will be the last time I compete for a championship. I won’t use the ‘R-word’ because I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there’s always the possibility I’ll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that. “I don’t foresee a day when I’ll ever step away from racing. I’m a fan of all forms of motor sports, but particularly NASCAR. We have a tremendous product, and I’m passionate about the business and its future success. As an equity owner in Hendrick Motorsports, I’m a partner with Rick (Hendrick) and will remain heavily involved with the company for many years to come. It means so much to have the chance to continue working with the owner who took a chance on me and the incredible team that’s stood behind me every step of the way. “Racing has provided a tremendous amount of opportunity that’s been extraordinarily rewarding and fulfilling in my life. The work we’re doing with the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation will continue to be extremely important to me. Outside the race car, my passion is pediatric cancer research, and my efforts will remain focused there when I’m no longer driving. “I’ll explore opportunities for the next phase of my career, but my primary focus now and throughout 2015 will be my performance in the No. 24 Chevrolet. I’m going to pour everything I have into this season and look forward to the challenge of competing for one last championship. “To everyone at NASCAR, my teammates, sponsors, competitors, friends, family, members of the media and especially our incredible fans, all I can say is thank you.”
Everyone who know me knows I am an Earnhardt fan for life. Dale Sr., Dale Jr., Kerry, Kelley or even Karsyn I will also be your fan. But saying that I do greatly respect Jeff Gordon. He showed the passion that he still has to win when he went after Brad K. Jeff is a great driver and an outstanding person.
At the end of the 2015 season NASCAR is miss the icon that Jeff Gordon is. Will NASCAR survive with out Jeff, just barely.
This has been a great season if you are a Dale Jr. fan. The only downer of the season was Jr. not being in the final four at Homestead. Jr. needed a win at Talladega to keep his chances alive and that didn’t happen. With four race to go, Jr. was out of the Championship.
To Jr. and Steve (Jr.’s Crew Chief) they bounced right back and won at Martinsville. A race special for both Jr. and Hendricks Motorsports. For Jr. the history of Martinsville places this track high up on tracks he wants to have a win at. And for 29 races at this track Jr. had not won. That all changed this weekend. Jr. finally closed the deal at Martinsville. Steve made a late race pit call and put four fresh tires on Jr.’s # 88. With 5 laps to go Jr. restarted in 5th. With 3 laps to go Jr. slide under Tony Stewart for the lead and out ran Jeff Gordon the remaining laps for the win.
Once again this season Jr. drove like is father who had won here 6 times. He saw his opening and took it. He knew that Jeff also had a great car and wouldn’t give him a chance to get to his bumper. After hearing all those clocks chime at dad’s house he wanted on of his own. And today was his day to get it.
Most of you know what happened and most of you have your opinion of the accident. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind. Here to discuss what will Tony Steward do next. Disclaimer here: I do not know Tony personally.
As of writing this blog, Tony has removed himself from the # 14 SHR car for the past 3 races. With the only 2 races left to make the Chase I really do not think Tony will race in those 2 races. He may not even return to the # 14 this season. Tony when he returns will have to deal with the media. The questions will be endless and Tony is not the best will dealing with the media even under good circumstances. So waiting for next season to make his return to me seem the best option for him.
Tony and SHR have other things besides racing to deal with right now. Even if there are no criminal charges there maybe a wrongful death civil suit against Tony and SHR. If you are wondering why Tony has been quiet about the accident this is why. With all the hurtful attacks on Tony it is best just to keep a low profile and keep quiet. Don’t give anyone a chance to draw more attention on Tony. If Tony has lawyer up its the safe thing to do.
My final thought is that maybe this accident may have taken all of Tony’s passion for racing away. I hope that is not the case. Love him or hate him, Tony is a great race driver and NASCAR will miss him if he doesn’t return.
It Aug. 3rd, Sunday evening and all is right again in Jr. Nation. NASCAR’s most popular driver wins his third race of the season by completing the Pocono Sweep. This win at Pocono was not caused by another driver’s misfortune (trash on the grille). Steve Letrate, Dale Jr’s crew chief played all the cards right and Jr. took the lead in the final 15 laps. When the caution flag waved there would be one more chance for another driver to steal the win from Dale Jr. Dale Jr. took the outside starting position with kevin Harvick on the inside.
With 3 laps to go Dale jr. took the lead on the restart and held off Harvick to the checkered flag. In those 3 laps Dale Jr. may have shown the NASCAR world that he maybe finally to win a championship. With Steve Letrate in his final season as Dale Jr’s Crew Chief and the swagger the Jr. has it may well happen this year.
What would a Dale Jr. Championship mean? Well for NASCAR it might stop the annual decline in attendance. Its a simple that when Dale Jr. wins more people show up at the race track. For Dale Jr. it might end all the talk about how he just got his job because of his last name. Championships are not won by the name over the door. They are won by a talented team that includes a driver, crew chief, pit crew and team owner. Right now the 88 team has all of those.
And I am sure that Dale Sr. is looking down right now and thinking they screwed up NASCAR but my son is driving his heart out.