Clinton, S.C., Monday, February 24, 2014, 10:03 a.m.
The first time I saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. drive a race car was at Martinsville Speedway sometime around 1993 or ’94. He was driving a Late Model and appeared to be nothing special. My impression at the time was that his sister Kelley was the better driver.
Then, of course, he emerged, and of all the questions I asked and answers I received, the one that sticks came from Mark Martin, who said the most impressive aspect of Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t how young he was but how little he had raced. Earnhardt Jr. didn’t start out racing go-karts when he was five. He was well into his teens before he ever gave it a try, and Martin was impressed that he had honed his skills in a relatively short time.
And now, going on 20 years later, that’s right, sports fans, *Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on Twitter.
This, obviously, is the one item he lacked. Already he’s mastered the art of the “selfie,” and now, working his way through the serpentine undulations of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase format is a mere formality.
Ah-hah, Jimmie Johnson, you’ve been had! Junior is on Twitter! Egads!
Neither rain nor wind nor a squadron of JGR Toyotas can dissuade the Second Coming of Dale from his appointed rounds, particularly the most recent 200.
“It’s not a weight when you’re able to deliver,” Earnhardt said. “It’s a weight when you’re not able to deliver. When people say you’re the face of the sport, you’re running fifth or 10th every week, it’s very challenging because you want to deliver and you’re not delivering.”
Incredibly, he wasn’t referring to Twitter, at least not in so many words.
All kidding aside – Jeff Gluck: Who’s kidding? – Earnhardt devoted an astonishing amount of a media conference Sunday night to talking about NASCAR. He actually mentioned such items as cars, tires and engines. It was very educational.
Each year, NASCAR holds a breakfast to honor its great social-media performers, and it’s not unusual for the winner of the Daytona 500 to be mentioned, too. On Monday morning, the fans were afforded a rare luxury. Why, sure, Earnhardt had won the Daytona 500 before, but he’d never been on Twitter, so it was special.
If that rascal starts fooling around with Snapchat, all bets are off.
What? He already does? My God. It’s over. Now it’s really over.
*Also won the Daytona 500 Sunday.