Dale Jr. not a fond car owner during Daytona last laps

By Tim Packman

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. knows the elation of winning at Daytona International Speedway as a driver. But, don’t look for him to be smiling during the final laps as the owner of JR Motorsports.

Earnhardt, Jr. is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500, doing so in 2004 and 2014. He’s also shown those same winning ways owning four NASCAR Xfinity Series teams.

On Saturday, for the third-consecutive time and seventh overall, one of his drivers pulled a JRM Chevrolet into Victory Lane for the series’ season opener. And, for the second-consecutive year, one of his drivers won for the first time. Matter of fact, JRM won all seven of those races with seven different winners

Last year, it was Michael Annett earning his first and on Saturday Noah Gragson did the same. Daytona is known for wild and nail-biting finishes filled with intensity and mechanized mayhem.

As Gragson was wheeling his way to victory in the final circuits, Earnhardt, Jr. was watching with racked emotions to see how it would end.

“I hate it,” he said about the final laps. “I don’t enjoy watching those races with our guys out there. I should.

“I probably will regret experiencing the races that way because it should be enjoyable, but it’s really tough. It’s really nerve-racking for me.

While he was a happy owner for Gragson, he was also disappointed two of his cars wrecked out in the later stages. Justin Allgaier received heavy front-end damage on his No. 7 Chevrolet when the No. 51 of Jeremy Clements slowed on the track. Allgaier was going to fast to avoid Clements.

“I’m so disappointed for Justin,” Earnhardt, Jr. said.  “He’s working really hard to try to get back to Victory Lane at Daytona, and Rick Brandt (primary sponsor) came into Victory Lane to support us.

“What a great sponsor. The guy, his car crashes out and he comes to Victory Lane and stood there just to be there. Just the incredible partner that he is for us.”

Jeb Burton led the most laps in the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet, but got turned in the closing laps and wrecked out of the race.

When one car wins, that means his other teams didn’t causing him to have varied thoughts after the race. Don’t fear, Earnhardt, Jr. does appreciate what it takes to get a win, especially at Daytona.

“It’s tough to watch the disappointment in a few teams,” he said. “Then, one team wins. It’s sort of getting pulled in a lot of different directions emotionally, but it’s tough.

“Any time we’re in the battle, in the thick of it down at the end of these races, it is a miserable sort of gut-wrenching feeling that I don’t really enjoy.

“But, going to Victory Lane is sure worth it.”

5 Comments

  1. Jerry Leonard

    February 16, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Dale Jr is a class act! He is definitely a chip off the old block for sure in driving, business, and in life! Just like his Daddy, he wanted all his guys to win but knows only one person could actually take the win and sad that his others worked hard for it and didn’t! Great guy and Family man! Proud of the Man he’s become and know Dale Sr is looking down with a big Ol grin on his face smiling saying yeeep! That’s My Boy right there!

  2. Samuel Roy

    February 16, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Amen to that brother

  3. Nicolerodanhisler

    February 16, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Dear Dale Jr i will root for you if you win the Daytona 500 you can do it go for it Dale good bless you dale

  4. Barbara Allred

    February 18, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Congrats on your team winning. My son is a big both Earnhardt’s. I truly believe he so proud. God bless and keep u and family. I am praying for Mr Newman

  5. Stephanie

    February 21, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Great article written !!

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