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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Richard Petty is ‘just looking out for me’

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A week after Richard Petty said he was a “little disappointed” Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t retire after his season-ending concussion last year, Earnhardt says he’s “not disappointed” in the racing legend’s comments.

“I think’s he’s just looking out for me, which I appreciate,” Earnhardt said on the latest episode of the Dale Jr Download.

Last week, the seven-time champion appeared on Fox Sports 1’s “NASCAR Race Hub” and shared his thoughts on Earnhardt’s return to racing. Earnhardt missed the final 18 races of last season and it was the second time he’s sat out due to concussions.

“He’s lived half his life and he don’t need to be messed up going to the next [half],” Petty said.

MORE: Back in the saddle: Dale Earnhardt Jr. looks to this season and beyond

In his podcast, Earnhardt shared how his relationship with Petty has changed since he was forced to sit out races beginning in July.

“For the longest time whenever I’d see Richard, I’d go up to him and shake his hand out of respect for him and everything he’s done for this sport and he was always very nice,” Earnhardt said. “Every time I see him now he comes up and grabs me by the arm and kind of gives this big bear hug, he puts his arm around you and asks how are you doin’ and asks if you’re taking care of yourself.

“And he’s way more engaged. I wouldn’t have instigated that because he’s a legend. He’s super engaged with me now. He’s always concerned about my well-being. I think his comment is basically saying ‘I’m worried about Dale Jr. This is me caring about Dale Jr. as a person.’ Nothing more.”

Earnhardt was cleared to return to racing in December after a test at Darlington Raceway. His first on-track activity with other cars since July came two weeks ago in a test at Phoenix Raceway. Alex Bowman, who substituted for Earnhardt with Jeff Gordon last year, will drive the No. 88 in this weekend’s Advanced Auto Parts Clash.

In his podcast Earnhardt said Bowman’s name will be on the No. 88 instead of his. When Bowman and Gordon drove it last year, Earnhardt’s name stayed on the car.

MORE: Earnhardt’s peers reflect on his lost season

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NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s patience propels him to victory lane in Food City 500

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Jimmie Johnson is known for his patience behind the wheel. Where other drivers may get too hot under the collar and over-react, Johnson is typically cool as a cucumber — and that’s helped lead him to many of his 82 career NASCAR Cup wins.

That patience once again played out in Johnson’s win Monday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only his second career triumph (and first in seven years) at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, Greg Biffle and Kyle Petty discussed Johnson’s patience throughout Monday’s race.

 

 

Heavy foot on pit road foils Kyle Larson once again at Bristol

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Kyle Larson did everything he could to win Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He led a race-high 203 laps in the 500-lap event, including dominating Stage 1, leading all 125 laps, as well as the first 77 laps in Stage 2.

But Larson, known for the heavy foot he has, saw that need for speed at the wrong time likely cost him the win.

When Erik Jones wrecked on Lap 422, Larson came to pit road and was too fast across two consecutive timing zones on the front straightaway en route to his pit stall.

“I was just pushing on pit road and messed up there,” Larson said after the race. “To start the race, I was the leader, I would run all my greens down pit road, and then once I fell back … down the straightaway I was running one red and flashed the second red real quick, and I guess that was all she wrote.”

NASCAR penalized Larson for speeding on pit road, dropping him to the back of the longest line, restarting in 20th place with 72 laps left in the race.

“Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there,” Larson said. “(I’m) disappointed in myself. I think I speed on pit road every single time I come to Bristol. So, I’ve got to clean that up.”

There’s that heavy foot admission once again.

Ironically, it was Larson’s first speeding penalty this season.

To his credit, Larson was able to quickly climb back up the grid, but couldn’t finish higher than sixth.

Still, Larson tried to a positive spin on things as he began to leave the track.

“I don’t know what more you could ask out of this place,” Larson said. “This is the best track we go to, most exciting place, and I love coming here.”

But he doesn’t like the way he came out of it once again, thanks to that darn heavy foot.

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NASCAR America: Dale Jarrett, Kelli Stavast recap Bristol driver performances

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After waiting out 28 straight hours of rain, Monday’s rescheduled Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway produced a rather exciting race.

The addition of adhesive to the lower grove at the track gave drivers additional grip that led to side-by-side and even three-wide racing.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kelli Stavast discussed the top driver performances in Monday’s race.

 

 

NASCAR America: My Home Track: Maine’s Oxford Plains, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway

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NASCAR America’s My Home Track series continued Monday as we visited Maine, otherwise known as the Pine Tree State.

Not only is it a great state for racing, including places like Oxford Plains and Beach Ridge Motor Speedway, Maine also lays claim to NBCSN’s own Steve Letarte, who paid homage to his home state in Monday’s edition of NASCAR America.