NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his dad and hanging back in a race
Trying to avoid wrecks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Jimmie Johnson, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, hung back in the field for much of the race last weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
But the strategy misfired when the Hendrick Motorsports drivers couldn't charge back to the front in time before Clint Bowyer took the checkered flag, and Earnhardt and Johnson finished a disappointing 25th and 26th.
When Earnhardt met with reporters Friday in advance of Sunday's race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he was asked what his father -- the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, known as "The Intimidator" -- would have thought if "somebody told him to ride around in the back until the end of the race."
"I don’t really want to answer that because I think you know the answer," Earnhardt replied, according to a transcript from Team Chevy.
Earnhardt then explained that the Hendrick teams collectively made the decision to be so cautious and "given the opportunity to run that race over, we would have just thrown ourselves into the fight and tried to run as hard as we could and taken whatever risks needed to be taken to stay toward the front."
You know, like his father raced.
"Hindsight is 20/20, but when we get that opportunity again, I don’t think that’s a strategy we’ll ever use again," Earnhardt said.
As for his dad, "I’m certain that a lot of things would be different if the old man was still around," he said.
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Dale Earnhardt Jr. before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Oct. 21. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky /Getty Images