Earnhardt, Johnson: no hard feelings after Daytona
Dale Earnhardt Jr. heard about how his fans flooded Jimmie
Johnson’s Twitter page after the five-time NASCAR champion seemed
to abandon his Hendrick Motorsports teammate late in last week’s
race at Daytona and couldn’t help but rib the social-media loving
”I called him up and said, `Now you know why I don’t have
Twitter,”’ Earnhardt said Friday at Kentucky Speedway, where the
Cup series will make its debut this weekend.
Earnhardt couldn’t help but laugh, even if the fans of the
series’ most popular driver weren’t quite so forgiving of Johnson’s
late move to pit for gas instead of trying to nudge Earnhardt to
his first victory in more than three years.
The duo spent most of the 400-mile race working as a two-car
tandem, with Johnson serving as the pusher much in the same way
Earnhardt pushed Johnson to victory at Talladega this spring.
Yet as the laps dwindled and the group of leaders started to
pull away, Johnson crew chief Chad Knaus ordered his driver to pit
in hopes that a little extra fuel would provide the difference if
the there were multiple green-white-checkered finishes.
”It was just do what we can to get our best finish and kind of
every man for themselves because we were so deep in the field,”
The decision left Earnhardt to fend for himself and he ended up
19th after getting caught up in a wreck on the final lap.
Frustrating? Yes. Johnson’s fault? Hardly. The move didn’t exactly
help him either. Johnson came in 20th.
”I figured Jimmie would still have a good opportunity to get up
to me and help us and pretty much we were in fine shape until
people forgot how to drive or people thought they could disobey the
laws of physics or whatever they were trying to do,” Earnhardt
said. ”The caution was out. It was a good time to go to pit
The disappointing night continued a mid-summer swoon by
Earnhardt. He’s finished no better than 19th in any of his last
three races, dropping him down to seventh in the standings with two
months to go before the Chase for the championship begins.
It’s hardly time to panic, but it’s not exactly the direction
Earnhardt would like to be going as the series enters the dog
”I hate what’s happened the last couple weeks,” Earnhardt
said. ”I have some regrets. Maybe I shouldn’t have beat up the car
And maybe, he allows, his fans shouldn’t beat up so much on
Johnson, a recent Twitter convert.
”I don’t know if I should be that surprised at anything the
fans (say), because they’re passionate you know,” Earnhardt said.
“They get it in their minds what they think is right and what they
think happened and they get up and run with it.”
Johnson was quick to point out that he received plenty of
positive feedback from Earnhardt supporters, and declared the
decision to pit a non-issue. It didn’t even come up during the
weekly Tuesday team-wide call.
”It was pretty cut and dry,” Earnhardt said. ”It really
didn’t bother me at all.”