Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s post-race breakdowns on periscope have become must-watch social media video, and this week's edition after he finished 10th in the Coca-Cola 600 did not disappoint.
Here are some of the highlights from it, as he talked about not only his second top-10 run of his final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season -- but also what he likes in a hot sauce, why Jimmie Johnson is such a great teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, and how he thought the fallen soldier whose name was on the windshield of his No. 88 Chevrolet helped him in the 600.
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Earnhardt opened his latest periscope session by saying he'd just taken a quick shower and finally was having a post-race beer -- even though it was by then early Monday morning rather than late Saturday night because of a 1-hour, 40-minute rain delay in the race.
"What am I drinkin’? Right now I’m drinking a Miller Lite. ... We have every kind of beer you would want. We’ve got Dale’s Pale Ale, Coors Light, Bud Light, Miller Lite,” he told his fans.
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"So we got a decent finish, and I think we earned it," Earnhardt said. "We ran like crap last week (in the All-Star Race at Charlotte), so when I got on the phone with (crew chief) Greg (Ives) the next day we talked about going back like the 48 team. We set our car up real close to theirs. We made a couple changes in practice that I thought I liked better.”
Good for the guys
The 10th-place finish was nice, but Earnhardt said he and the team are nowhere near satisfied.
“That’s still not where we want to be. I’ve always felt like we were a top-5 team … but it’s still good to see some gains. I felt good for my guys because they were getting beaten up pretty bad.”
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“Let me tell you a little bit about Jimmie and what kind of teammate he is. He was calling me on the phone in the morning, in the evening, after qualifying, before practice, after practice. He was even coming over during practice to my window net and talking to me. He’d get out of his own car to come over to mine to see what I was thinking.
“He would bring papers with our driver traces on ‘em, which basically shows his steering compared to my steering and where we’re using the throttle and stuff. Just a really impressive example of what being a teammate is all about.”
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Timely rain delay
“We had that rain delay and went to the hauler, where Greg (Ives) and I talked about all the changes we had made to that point and how they had been working. I called Jimmie on the phone," Junior said. "I asked about a couple of the changes he made on his car and how they were working. So Jimmie helped us during the race, too.”
As he was speaking, Earnhardt received some text messages from his disheartened nephew Jeffrey Earnhardt, whose broken car caused an accident in the 600 that took out the cars of possible contenders Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski.
“I’m getting texts from Jeffrey," Earnhardt said. "He’s really upset because he ruined the race for the 24 and the 2. He’s wanting to get their numbers so he can call them. That’s the kind of stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Jeffrey’s a good boy. I’m real proud of him.”
Steak 'n Shake fan
Earnhardt said he watched the Indianapolis 500, which was won by Takuma Sato, with great rooting interest.
"I was hoping Marco (Andretti) could win or (Graham) Rahal.," he said. "Me and Rahal are pretty good friends, plus Steak-n-Shake is just damn good stuff. How can you not pull for the Steak-n-Shake car?”
Junior added that he was pleased to see Austin Dillon put the No. 3 car back in Victory Lane in the 600. It was the first win in NASCAR's Cup Series since Earnhardt's father won in it at Tallaega in October of 2000, just months before his death in a last-lap accident in the 2001 Daytona 500.
“The 3 back in Victory Lane … that’s pretty specialm" he said. "I was real happy when they talked about bringing that number back, so obviously I’m real happy to see it back in Victory Lane.
“Happy for Austin. He’s a good guy. Him and Ty are both pretty good kids … happy for that whole company. I compete against them so I don’t want to see them win when I’m trying to win, and I want my teammates to win but it’s really cool to see Richard Childress go back to Victory Lane.”
Special restart assistance
Earnhardt said he believed he got a special lift from carrying the name of U.S. Army Private First Class James McClamrock, a native of Huntersville, North Carolina, on his windshield in the 600. McClamrock was killed in action Sept. 7, 2010 at Balad Air Base in Iraq.
“I met the family of McClamrock, the solider who was on the windshield of the car," Dale Jr. said. "I met his mom was telling me a bunch about him and she kept repeating things like, ‘No fear’ and ‘Have no fear.’ Those were mottos of either his company or things that he really believed in and stood for.
“And so I was thinking when we were on these restarts, especially when I was on the outside – because you can use the third groove at Charlotte – that I would try to have no fear because McClamrock was on the windshield and he would make sure it all worked out. And it did. All you need is that confidence, and she really gave it to me.”
What it means
“Meeting that family was an incredible honor," Earnhardt added. "They’re from Mooresville and know some of my relatives. For the drivers to be able to carry the name of a fallen soldier on the windshield all night, it means a lot to the drivers and the families. …
“I’m not trying to compare the two – but when I lost my dad, all I cared about is that people didn’t forget who he was and tht they would remember him forever. So I imagine when those families come to the racetrack all they want you to do is know who their kid was and know a little bit about him. They want him to be remembered, right? That’s the way I kind of felt about it all day."