Dale Earnhardt Jr. does best to balance fan expectations vs. interactions

2 Comments

Dale Earnhardt Jr, experiencing his own troublesome time in his final season of NASCAR Cup racing, has sympathy for Danica Patrick.

Last weekend a Facebook Live video showed Patrick lecturing fans and saying ‘I have feelings, too” after she was booed for not signing autographs at Pocono Raceway.

Earnhardt said on his weekly podcast, “She’s had a tough year. She’s under tons of pressure. She’s under a lot of pressure. I can completely relate to where she is mentally.”

Earnhardt later added, “I hate it for Danica because it paints her in a bad light, but she brought it on herself. … You never know when a camera’s rolling, whose watching. It’s certainly true in that case.”

In the latest episode of the Dale Jr. Download, the 14-time most popular driver addressed a big debate that’s come out of the video — is it a driver’s job to sign autographs?

Earnhardt discussed how signing autographs works as sort of therapy for him, especially in a season where he’s struggling to perform on the track.

“The thing is I have found that what makes me feel better is actually going and signing autographs because the fans talk to you and go ‘I saw your qualifying, I saw it wasn’t very good. No problem, you’re going to get them tomorrow,’ Earnhardt said. “That’s all you really want to hear, from whoever is going to tell you that. You’re feeling like crap, you’re disappointed. … Going and actually going to talk to the fans and hearing their reinforcement, their positive reinforcement is good for me. I kind of seek that out in those moments because I know once I go through that process of signing some autographs, talking and interacting, you kind of get your priorities readjusted, what’s important.

“They tell you what you need to hear. ‘Get over this. Tomorrow’s another day.’ I’ll dwell on things and make an ant hill a mountain and make a problem much worse than it really is in my head. So for me it’s good therapy to interact.”

Even though he is the most high-profile face in NASCAR, Earnhardt still gets to experience life as a fan when he encounters celebrities from other walks of life. So he understands when a racing fan is let down by an encounter with a driver at the track.

“When I meet a famous person, I just want to walk away feeling like ‘Man, I’m glad I pull for that guy’ or ‘Man, it was cool to meet him,’ ” Earnhardt said. “I hate to say it this way, cause I think it puts a little unnecessary pressure on that celebrity, but you just don’t want to be disappointed by the way they act, how they interact with you. It can be quick and small. I don’t think people or myself have to have five minutes or an hour of your time. But just don’t be an a****** or disappoint. I like to take pictures. If I see, even today, if I see a celebrity, I kind of really want a picture with them. So I can post it on my social media.”

and on Facebook