By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
FONTANA, Calif. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. hates to lose -- even if it involves filling out an NCAA tournament bracket.
Earnhardt, a serious fantasy football player and an avid Washington Redskins fan, ventured far afield this week and for the first time filled out an NCAA tournament bracket as part of a competition with race fans.
"I got asked to do it," Earnhardt explained during a question-and-answer session with reporters Friday afternoon. "I never filled out a bracket before, so it was my first time. I kind of like to watch the tournament, it's interesting to see who the Cinderella teams are and how far (North) Carolina can go. I tend to pull for Carolina in college basketball.
"I think Jimmie (Johnson) and I got asked to do it together, so (road manager) Mike Hoag came over to the house the other day and we sat down, thought it through and made my picks. I think I was 11-and-5 (after the first day of play)."
Earnhardt said he enjoyed the challenge.
"Well, I've only ever done fantasy football, and I didn't really know if brackets were even that fun to do," he said. "It's my first foray into that. I think it's pretty fun to do with your friends, but I'm such a football nut and focus so much on fantasy football that's really all I ever thought about doing as far as fantasy sports go.
"But this is pretty fun. I'm having a good time with it. I hate losing. I hate making the wrong pick. But what are you going to do? There's a lot of games."
What does Nationwide Series rookie phenom Kyle Larson do when he's not competing in a NASCAR race?
That's easy. He races something else.
After track activity concluded Friday at Auto Club Speedway, Larson and his mentor, Tony Stewart, flew north to Stockton, Calif., (75 miles east of San Francisco) for the inaugural World of Outlaws winged sprint car event at the Stockton 99 dirt track. According to track co-owner and promoter Ken Clapp, the event drew the largest crowd in the history of Stockton racing -- a paid attendance of 10, 614.
After qualifying third, Larson won the "A" Main feature, earning $10,000 and the trophy. Stewart was fourth in time trials and finished ninth.
Greg Biffle led Saturday morning's Sprint Cup practice session with a lap at 186.253 mph. AJ Allmendinger was second fastest at 186.191 mph. ... Three Toyota Camry drivers paced final practice, which should prove closest to Sunday's race conditions. On a warmer, slicker track, Mark Martin led Happy Hour with a best lap at 183.351 mph, followed by Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer (182.945 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing's Matt Kenseth (182.839 mph).