Dale Earnhardt Jr. said his late dad gave him only one piece of driving advice, but that small bit of wisdom went a very long way.
“It was such a great lesson, and he did such a great job giving it to me,” Earnhardt said on this week’s NASCAR America Debrief podcast. “I’m really surprised he didn’t give me any more (lessons), because he taught me really well in this particular situation.”
Well enough to sweep the Cup-Xfinity weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2004.
After those dual victories, Earnhardt credited some advice he had gotten from his seven-time champion father about driving the 0.533-mile oval.
During a practice session at Bristol, Earnhardt Jr. made laps while his dad talked him through it on the radio and guided him on when to hit the accelerator and let off.
“He took the whole lap and wound it back counterclockwise,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “He basically was teaching me to get in the corner easier and off the corner harder. I was overdriving the car. It made the lap more about momentum and timing and rhythm. This made driving Bristol really easy.
“We never set down and talked about how to draft. ‘You see me doing this, this is why.’ He never would do that, but that one time I guess he saw me struggling pretty bad (at Bristol).”
The anecdote amused fellow podcast and NASCAR America guest Dale Jarrett, who had been stymied in his attempts to draw knowledge from “The Intimidator.”
“I’m glad to hear that, because I had a complex,” Jarrett said with a laugh. “I thought he just wouldn’t talk to me about driving. Every time I tried to pick his brain. He would not talk about driving a race car whatsoever. He would not talk about setups.
“He didn’t care what you had. He knew he was better than you, so he didn’t care how you might be going about it. If you beat him, it was because you had something he didn’t. That was his philosophy. I thought for sure he was talking to (Dale Jr.) about things.
“You can talk to other drivers. You go try to have a conversation (with Dale Earnhardt) about a certain track, he wasn’t going to have it. He’d totally change it. He’d talk T-shirts, hats and diecast cars and him going hunting.”
“What he thought was important,” Earnhardt Jr. said with a laugh.
Click on the embed above to hear the podcast, which appears every week after the “Wednesdays With Dale Jr.” episode of NASCAR America on NBCSN.