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From the Marbles

Don’t call Earnhardt Jr. a fan of Talladega’s two-car drafting

Geoffrey Miller
From The Marbles

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Earnharadt Jr.

When drivers are made available to the media during race weekends, they're all too often mundane purveyors of racing clichés. Fortunately, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is rarely in that form.

Saturday morning was more of the same for NASCAR's affable Chosen One as he willfully delivered his un-rosy opinion of the new drafting standard at restrictor plate tracks.

In other words, Junior thinks the two-car drafting tandems are frankly 'crap'.

"I'm hoping this kind of racing goes away fast so we don't have to talk about this no more. It's a mess. This is a bunch of crap," Earnhardt said. "Ya'll don't really look at it and think it's strange?"

Those words, of course, are music to the ears of plenty a NASCAR fan who weren't particularly fond of February's Daytona 500 — a race played out nearly completely by drivers needing to have a dancing partner glued to their bumper in order to make any progress.
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Earnhardt then offered some assessments on the situation: (Warning: long quote alert)

"Were we doing this for the last 15 years? We weren't doing it when it was brand-new — the asphalt. It was like that. I don't know man. I'm not an engineer. Might take a physics major to figure it out. You remember when, you know, when we would go out to practice and even the few fans that are here on a Thursday or a Friday, [that it would be] pretty interesting to them to watch guys out there practicing. How interesting was practice yesterday?"

Obviously, Earnhardt didn't think it was too interesting. He also doesn't see it sticking as a good form of racing.

"Everybody thinks it is cool now 'cause it's new and it's neat and wow, what is going on. Everybody is getting a big kick out of it," he said. "Over the long haul, man, it's not the best. It is not as good as 40 dudes in one pack racin' like hell tryin' to get to the front. It is nowhere near as good as that. Give me that any day over this. Over the long haul people will realize it and go 'Yeah, ok.' "

On that token, Earnhardt is probably right. The two-car drafts seem to have a shorter shelf life in terms of interest than the much-loved large packs of cars that became the standard at Daytona and Talladega.

Earnhardt, however, isn't trying to deliver an overall criticism of NASCAR. It's just his opinion, he says.

"I think NASCAR is doing what they think is right and I don't want to say what they are doing is wrong, 'cause I don't know," he said. "I don't know whether I'm right or wrong. I just know what I prefer — what I like. It's my opinion; I'm entitled to one. Everybody's got one."

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