Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his stepmother Teresa aren't what you would call "close." When Junior bolted Dale Earnhardt Inc. for Hendrick Motorsports in 2007, their frayed relationship finally tore apart once and for all.
But on Thursday, birthday of Dale Earnhardt Sr., they reunited for a common purpose: honoring the memory of The Intimidator.
The Earnhardts, along with Richard Childress and Dale's sister Kelley, unveiled the No. 3 Wrangler car that Junior will drive in the July Daytona race. It's one of many ways that the Earnhardt family will honor Dale Sr. as he's inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Junior initially devised the idea, as he had some unsponsored races for his Nationwide car. He contacted Wrangler, with whom he has an existing sponsor relationship. Kelley brought in Childress and Teresa to close the circle.
Although Senior is most famous for driving the black Goodwrench No. 3, he drove the Wrangler 3 for several years before that. Childress still retains the rights to the 3, and he's raced it several times since then, most often by his grandson, Austin Dillon.
The tension between Dale and Teresa was evident in their quotes at the event, as Scene Daily noted:
"Me and Teresa has [sic] always had a lot of respect for each other," Junior said. "Dad always had a way of bringing everybody together. It’s Dale Earnhardt Day. This is a great opportunity … for us to do something together in the good for my father and what he meant for all of us."
"As long as we keep the goal in mind of honoring our dad," Kelley said, "we all tend to overcome whatever it is that we may be holding on to."
As for further reunions? "Let’s get through this one," Teresa said. "We’re really here to enjoy this program and Dale’s birthday."
Sounds like a plan. Look for the 3 in Daytona, and perhaps afterward ... but not in Sprint Cup. Neither Childress nor Junior expressed any interest in doing that any time soon, if at all.