Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Congratulations, Dale Earnhardt, Jr!

I do not know how race car drivers put the past behind them, as the famed Dale, Jr. has regarding his dad's death on the very track in which he won this weekend. Ironically, the last lap of this race included a very bad accident involving another #3, Austin Dillon, as the 2001 race did which cost Dale, Sr. his life. Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress, teamowner of the #3 both then and now, climbed out of the mangled car bruised. After Dale, Sr's, crash, the #3 was retired and Childress said, "You will never see #3 on another car." I guess grandchildren not only consume hearts, but they make you forget about one's promises and maybe even the hearts of others.

I wonder how Dale, Jr. really feels about seeing the #3 again, passing by it lap after lap, seeing the horrific crash Childress's young grandson survived. Sure, Childress seeked Dale, Jr's blessings before the unveiling, but I doubt one ever gets over the loss of their parent, especially when they worked together.

An interview prior to Sunday's race with Dale, Jr. and Steve Letarte consisted of them watching film together of Dale's first win at Daytona. One could tell that Dale was holding the tears back as he relived a race in which he won. It was, indeed, a touching moment followed by excellent comments from first-year broadcaster Letarte, who was Earnhardt, Jr's crew chief for a few years. If the emotion of watching his victory overcomes him, we can only guess at what he feels each time he passes turns 3 and 4 of Daytona.

Congratulations, Dale, for winning the race, beating the emotions that probably told you to quit racing, and for creating your own legacy. You are greatly admired. I could not do that.

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