NASCAR America: Dale Jr. on father’s advice, racing in his shadow, Kelley’s influence (videos)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the special guest for the entire hour of Tuesday’s NASCAR America, which was live from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Among some of the revelations Junior offered was how his father rarely gave him racing advice early in his career, and how his father left him in victory lane following his first NASCAR Cup win at Texas in 2000.

“Pulling into victory lane, seeing Dad, knowing he was there,” Junior said. “We had already celebrated a few wins with him in the Xfinity Series, but that was the first Cup win you just dream about, just making it to the Cup Series. Celebrating with Dad, I’ll never forget it.”

Junior related another story from that celebration when his father left early.

“I would fly with him, jump on the plane and go with Dad,” Junior said. “We won the race and he’s like, ‘I’m not sticking around for all this. You’re going to be another hour or two, so find a ride home but have fun.”

But before the elder Earnhardt left, he passed along some excellent advice to his son.

“He said enjoy this, make sure you let this sink in,” Junior said.

Junior also talked about being a third-generation champion, following in the footsteps of his seven-time Cup champion father Dale Sr., and his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt.

Junior admitted that when he first started racing, he not only had to work at everything, but also feared the prospect of having to race in his father’s shadow.

“If we showed the initiative and the will to do the work, he would help us out,” Junior said. “I wanted to drive. I remember racing go-karts for a while as a 12-year-old but I kept flipping out of the thing and dad didn’t like that, so he finally put a stop to it.

“He didn’t like that I didn’t have a roll cage or a seatbelt and I kept flying out of the thing. I asked him when do I get to race? He said the next opportunity you get to race is when you get your driver’s license. I couldn’t imagine waiting three or four more years to race. I’m going to go crazy waiting. I had to find something.

“I wanted to race pretty bad but I was really scared of racing in his shadow. I knew, even at a young age, that was going to be so hard. I was really nervous about that, not living up to everyone’s expectations. But it was not as hard, honestly, as I made it out to be as a kid.”

As for the little advice his father gave him, Junior understood why his father did that.

“The first half of my career, people would ask what was the best advice my dad gave me,” Junior said. “Nothing. The only thing I can resort to was there was one day he gave me racing advice. I was at Bristol (Motor Speedway). He gets up on his truck during Xfinity practice, got on the radio and told me where to lift and when to get back on the gas. It was not where I was thinking. He said, ‘lift at the flagstand.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, this is way better.’ I was driving it way too hard and making it much harder than it needed to be.

“That was the only time he ever did anything like that. We never talked about the draft, being calm, taking your time, pace yourself, we never did any of that. Any time I asked him questions, it would always ended up going somewhere else and always wound up being more about life lessons, having your head on straight and showing initiative and appreciation.

“He wanted to see me working my guts out for it, and that would spur him to be involved and start to give me that advice. But he wasn’t just going to hand it over.”

Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell led a race-high 120 laps to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. It’s his second career Xfinity win.

Bell beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Noah Gragson, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Click here for the race results.

Points

Elliott Sadler continues to lead the point standings through eight races. He has a 29-point lead over Bell.

Completing the top five is Tyler Reddick (-31 points), Daniel Hemric (-38) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell fended off teammate Noah Gragson to break through and win his first Xfinity race of the year Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bell led the final 79 laps around the .75-mile track to score his second career win. He had finished in the top five in four of the first seven races this season.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Had to work for it. My teammate was really good and I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for last couple of weeks and it’s really shown.”

Gragson placed second in his first career Xfinity start. He bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty early in the race.

He hounded Bell for much of the last 15 laps, but could never pull even with him.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gragson told FS1 of his first series start at the short track. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I kept it in my memory bank until the end and I told me team, ‘I got something, when it’s time to go tell me when.’ About 18 to go, I told them, ‘Can’t wait any longer, I don’t have any more patience.”

Gragson, who drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, led 10 laps.

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

With his third-place finish, Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Bell, Sadler, Tifft and Cindric will be eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Talladega.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Elliott Sadler, first stage win of season

MORE: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric earned his first career top five after starting from the rear for an unapproved adjustment … Matt Tifft earned his fourth career top five … Ryan Truex placed seventh to give Kaulig Racing its fourth top 10 of the year. It earned five last year … Jeremy Clements placed eighth, earning his first top 10 since he won at Road America in August.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After winning Stage 1, Daniel Hemric lost his right front tire with three laps to go in Stage 2, but made it to the end. He finished 29th, four laps down … Justin Allgaier spun after ramming into the back of Spencer Gallagher with 86 laps to go. Chase Briscoe was also received damage in the incident. Allgaier finished 14th. Briscoe placed 26th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “My wife’s already spent it.” – Elliott Sadler to FS1 after winning the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 28 on Fox.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.