How elated/rejuvenated/jubilant is THIS Dale Earnhardt Jr?
Look no further than the way he ended Tuesday’s NASCAR weekly media phone call.
“I enjoyed the teleconference. Thanks for having me on.”
What?! Four years ago, you wouldn’t have heard that. Heck, you wouldn’t hear most drivers say that NOW…and they weren’t coming off 36+ hours of media obligations like Junior was at the time.
”I’m in a good place now. I(‘ve) got my priorities in better shape. “
What’s the difference? What’s his secret? Because quite honestly I’m sure we’d all like to take a swig from that bottle!
It’s the cars. They are performing better.
It’s his team. They believe in him.
It’s his crew chief. Dale’s biggest cheerleader.
But bottom line: I think it’s Dale’s time. And so does he.
“I feel like we’re embarking on a season that could be something really special for me.”
Since winning the Daytona 500, Dale has been going through the “car wash”…
NASCAR’s pre-arranged media tour that takes the Daytona 500 champion directly from the speedway to the airport and from one coast to the other.
Last year, when I met up with 2013 Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson in Texas for Day 3 of the whirlwind, he was exhausted. Don’t get me wrong…he was happy to be there, and proud of his win. But he was also looking forward to taking a nap.
Dale Jr. sounds like he’s ready for any (and every) question that comes up.
“I’m enjoying it. It’s a lifetime opportunity to not only win the race but to be able to celebrate it and go talk to the world about it.”
And that world is hanging on his every word.
Dale Jr. was one of the few drivers in the Sprint Cup Series NOT on twitter.
Sunday night, (actually, by the time the race ended and Dale’s Victory Lane obligations subsided, it was well into Monday) Dale finally “put out.”
In less than 48 hours, Dale was conducting chats with fans and answering personal questions like whether he wants kids and would he ever go back in time.
(Both answers were golden, by the way!)
So was his response when asked how he passed the time during Sunday’s 6-hour rain delay: “I just put on some sweat pants, sat on the couch, ate a bunch of candy, played with the dogs, talked to my girlfriend, watched some TV, ate some junk food.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has always been NASCAR’s “It” driver. But THIS Dale Jr. is something more. He’s out front. And unabashed.
He didn’t just win The Great American Race. He turned new (and old) generations into Great American Race Fans.