Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

After Friday's emotional victory, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ponders his life and career

  The trick is in the beard? Dale Earnhardt Jr. says being clean-shaven didn't bring him good luck, so he's thrown away the blades (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)   

   By Mike Mulhern

   Might a Dale Earnhardt Jr. sweep be here in the cards, looking ahead through the rain at Saturday night's Coke 400?
   Well, Friday's victory in the Nationwide 250 shows Daytona still fires him up.
   It's been an up-and-down season for Earnhardt, who goes into Saturday night's 400 still winless on the tour since the summer of 2008. But up-and-down is certainly better than last year's just down.
   And Earnhardt came close to winning the Daytona 500, remember, with that green-white-checkered charge from 22nd to 2nd....
   Late Friday night, after pulling off that emotional win at one of his late father's favorite tracks, Earnhardt was in a philosophical mood.
   He's 35, about to turn 36. He's won 18 tour races since going full-time in 2000. He's been a perennial most-popular driver (until Jimmie Johnson finally won one of those votes a couple weeks ago).
   And he insists he's no longer hosting Party Central.
   Still, he senses some doubters out there about him and his career....
   "I think people can stop questioning my commitment -- whether I care...whether I have the passion anymore, enough passion," Earnhardt says.
   "I have worked my ass off to get back just to subpar."
   And he laughs.
   "Are we right? No, I'm still wrong....but I have busted my ass," he says. "I mean I can't drive and work any *&^% harder than I'm working right now. I can't.
    "This is all I got. And I'm doing it hard, man. I mean, I cannot work any harder."
    Earnhardt knows a crew can sense when a driver is slacking.
    "You can't do this half-*&^%, you can't do it 90 percent -- You'll get eaten up," Earnhardt says. "It will be obvious to everybody around you: your team, your crew chief, everybody who builds your motors, builds your cars. And they'll still stop giving a &^%$, because they know you're not giving a *&^%. And you won't go anywhere.
   "So I tell myself every year 'Am I working hard?'
    "Yeah, I can't work any harder....What more can I do?
    "This year I mean we've worn it out trying to get back to where we need to be.
    "I'm not burnt out. I still got a lot in the tank. And we got a long season left.
    "But I got the passion, man.
      "I want to win.
      "I want to be here for a long, long time.
      "But I guess people will question that until you're done.
     "Not just me; other drivers too.
     "I shouldn't take it so personal.
     "But, man, when you work so damn hard....
     "I mean you guys know how it is. You're working your ass off to try to get somewhere, do the best you can....and for anyone to wonder whether you're giving it all you got ticks you off.
    "But that's just the way it is."

   The Man, in victory at Daytona, 1998 (Photo: DaleEarnhardtInc)

    And the beard is back.
    Earnhardt has gone back and forth on the beard.
    "I grew the beard back because I've been running better," Earnhardt teased. "We had those first 10 races where we hauled ass....then I shaved, and we ain't running worth a damn.
    "So I grew the beard back. Also I started drinking beer on Monday. 
     "Now the beard ain't got its own personality. The beard does have a Facebook page, but it's not a real person....just a beard on my face.
    "And I quit partying so much.
     "I drink beer every Monday, and I grew a beard back. Those two things seem to be helping me."
    And he laughed again. Actually he's only raced twice this season clean-shaven, running 13th at Talladega and then finishing a dismal 32nd the following weekend at Richmond, which prompted him to stop shaving. All good fun.....
    It was that kind of late night post-race talk.
    It was, after all, a night to remember, and savor.
    Winning at Daytona, wearing his father's fightin' colors and the number 3.
    For the last time in a number 3 he insists.
    "It means more to me now, knowing I won't ever do it again, that I won," Earnhardt says.
    "We can all just remember this....and finish our lives....do what we got to do, what we need to do -- till we get too old to do whatever we want to do."
   And hold the memories of these good times.
      [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]


   Clean-shaven Junior, at Talladega in April (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

You are a class act Dale Jr.

You are a class act Dale Jr. Your father was smiling ear to ear as he rode beside you. I hope you can finally heal after this and go out and get what you worked so hard for. Win or loose, I will forever be an Earnhardt fan. Dale Sr., Dale Jr., and hopefully someday (God willing)Dale Earnhardt III. I would love to live long enough to see Dale III driving the # 3. That would be something. Now go kick some righteous butt my man! Go get what's yours. Always Remember, You're an Earnhardt, hold that head high. To me, You have surpassed any expectations that were undeservedly placed upon you by many, by just being the son of a legend. You are your own Man, I've seen it for years. May all your dreams and desires come to fruition. You deserve to finally find peace inside, and only remember these "good" times. R.I.P. Dale Earnhardt, God is an Earnhardt Fan too!

George F King Jr

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com