Earnhardt family had a special
(May 22, 2000)
Make no doubt about it, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has no problem
living in his fathers shadow. Some days, he prefers things that way.
Its kind of funny for me to stand there on
that podium and hear people cheering Earnhardt, Earnhardt, Earnhardt when Im
the only Earnhardt standing up there, Earnhardt Jr. said after winning The Winston
Saturday night. That was kind of weird. I made sure the big Earnhardt hurried up and
got up there so I didnt feel so weird anymore. Hes the Earnhardt in the
The big Earnhardt joined him quickly on Saturday,
clapping his son -- and employee -- on the back and smiling broadly. It had been quite a
night for the pair.
Earnhardt Jr. managed to turn NASCARs Winston Cup
all-star race into an epic event on Saturday. He struggled to overcome lost positions
after almost losing a wheel, battled his own car after brushing the wall and surged past
his father in a late-race showdown.
I looked in my mirror and here this thing comes,
Earnhardt said of his sons charge. He hit the wall back there, and it looked
like it got it running better.
Earnhardt Jr. scraped the wall late in the second 30-lap
segment of the race. He never slowed, barreling through the fourth turn to keep chasing
the leaders. It was one of many gutsy moves he made to beat the veterans.
He etched his name alongside his fathers as a winner of
The Winston. But he did it as a rookie. And he did it by edging past his father late in
the final race of the three-segment event.
This is a really special night for me, Earnhardt
Jr. said. Ill never forget [Saturday night], and Ill never forget how
proud I am of the team and ourselves as a team. You get up there on stage with your dad,
and a lot of realizations come into play and come into mind. A lot of flashbacks of old
He remembers a lot of things about growing up but said he is
closer to his dad now than hes ever been. He is closer to his older brother, Kerry,
as well. After winning the $500,000 share for first place, Earnhardt Jr. said he didnt
want the money. He suggested pouring it back into the well-funded team or putting it in
Or maybe it can be used to help Kerry. Saturday afternoon, he
finished second in the ARCA race at Lowes Motor Speedway. After his own win,
Earnhardt Jr.s thoughts turned to that event.
[Kerry] has been through really tough times and had
a lot of people lose confidence in him, not our family or
anybody in our organization, just people we had hired or put in position to work with him,
Earnhardt Jr. said. Nobody wanted to work with him, and he was under a lot of
Earnhardt Jr. could sympathize, but he really didnt
know his brother that well. Not then.
I didnt ever even meet the guy until I was 13
years old, so he had to be 17 or 18, he said. It was kind of like a little
family quarrel going on there between my dad and Kerrys mama, so for the longest
time he wasnt part of the family.
But that has all changed.
Everything hes learned he had to learn the hard
way by backing cars into the wall, tearing wheels off of cars at Hickory [Speedway] when
he was running late model cars, Earnhardt Jr. said. Hes come a long way.
After finishing second, Kerry Earnhardt said he hoped his dad
would consider putting him in a Busch Grand National car in the future. Earnhardt Jr.
hopes it goes even further.
I never thought up until [Saturday] that Id be
able to race my brother in the Winston Cup series like the Burtons do, but after today, I
think its a great possibility that well see Kerry in a Winston Cup car in two
or three years, he said. Im going to have a lot of fun with it. Just
like me and dad getting closer as Ive started running Winston Cup, me and Kerry will
start to get closer. Itll be a good opportunity for both of us.
T h e E a r n h a r d t C o n n
e c t i o n
Home Page | Contact Us