NASCAR America: Dream matchups through the ages

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Last week Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. had a memorable side-by-side battle in the closing laps at Martinsville. It ended with one driver (Logano) in victory lane and the other (Truex) standing on pit road with thumbs pointed down in disapproval.

the finish begged the question of which two drivers throughout history would be dream matchups for Wednesday’s NASCAR America panelists.

Nate Ryan’s dream matchup would be Jimmie Johnson versus Dale Earnhardt Sr. at Martinsville in 2007. That year, Jeff Gordon beat the back bumper off Johnson’s car, but could not pass the No. 48. Ryan wonders if it would have been different with the Intimidator doing the bumping.

Dale Jarrett would like to see a playoff matchup between two of NASCAR’s most notable rivals.

“Two guys that I raced with – and I saw them battle a lot – but I’d like to put them in the playoffs in a situation just like Sunday, trying to make their way to the championship and that’s Rusty Wallace and … Dale Earnhardt,” Jarrett said. “To watch them battle once again nose-to-tail and see – either one of them behind the other – would be a great finish.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s dream matchup was much more personal. He would like the opportunity to race his father one more time on a restrictor-plate superspeedway.

For more, watch the video above.

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Dale Jr. Download: Pranks in the NASCAR garage have a long history

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Martin Truex Jr.‘s crew chief, Cole Pearn, told Jimmie Johnson that one way to make up for the accident on the last lap at the Charlotte Roval was to buy the No. 78 crew road bikes. When a crew member saw Johnson returning to Dover on Friday, he jokingly inquired if Johnson was on one of the bikes that the No. 78 would receive.

That got Johnson and his team thinking.

Johnson had his motorhome driver go to Walmart and buy bikes for the No. 78 team – but not the ones they might have expected. He filled the lift gate on the back of Truex’s hauler with kids’ bikes.

That led Dale Earnhardt Jr. to send out a request for memories of special pranks throughout the history of NASCAR, which he shared on this week’s edition of the Dale Jr. Download.

Richard Petty’s legendary crew chief and cousin Dale Inman factored heavily in the memories.

“Chocolate Myers from (Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s) team bungie-corded a port-a-john closed at North Wilkesboro with Dale Inman in it,” Earnhardt said. “Chocolate had to hide from Inman for about a month. And Dale Inman was genuinely upset – like wanted to cause physical harm.”

On another occasion, car owner and Hollywood producer Hal Needham got into the act.

“Hal Needham got a Shakespearian actor-friend to walk around the Charlotte garage dressed as a voodoo doctor placing curses on cars,” Earnhardt said. “Dad thought it was a trip, Dale Inman freaked the hell out. Dale Inman went to NASCAR to have the guy ejected out of the garage.”

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Joey Logano supports Jimmie Johnson’s split second decision at Charlotte

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The Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte was an instant classic – made so in no small part by the last lap drama involving Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.

Three days after the conclusion of the race, Johnson’s decision to go for the victory instead of protecting his points and insuring he would advance to Round 2 of the playoffs is still being debated.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Petty asked their guest Joey Logano what he would have done in the same situation.

Earnhardt believes it is a driver’s job to win races.

“Jimmie’s a seven-time champion,” Earnhardt said. “He’s a bit of a superhero to his fans and superheroes go for the win.”

Petty was surprised that Johnson would risk losing the opportunity to earn his eighth championship.

“I think Jimmie and those guys lost the battle and lost the war,” Petty said. “They lost everything in one fell swoop.”

Logano saw both sides, but leaned toward Earnhardt’s opinion.

“If you’re Jimmie and it’s been a little bit since he’s won and he’s used to winning – he’s won seven championships and I don’t know how many races. … it being that long since you’ve been to Victory Lane and you see it right in front of you, how do you not go for it?” Logano answered.

For the record, Johnson has 83 victories to his credit – tying him with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. His seven championships puts him in a three-way tie for the most with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty.

Ultimately, Petty gave the perspective that most drivers would echo.

Recalling a dinner that included himself, Earnhardt Sr. and legendary journalist Chris Economaki after an Xfinity race in Richmond (known then as the Busch series), Petty relayed a conversation. Economaki questioned a decision made by Earnhardt to which the driver replied “until you set in that car at 140 degrees and have to make a split second decision, don’t criticize what I do in a race car.”

Watching the debate, country music recording artist Tim Dugger weighed in on Johnson’s side, tweeting “I don’t blame JJ going for the win… He hadn’t won in a while and was that close… go for it nothing to lose when you are 7time!”

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. baffled by their popularity

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NASCAR’s most popular driver from 2003 through 2017 sat down with Chase Elliott – the driver most believe will pick up the mantle in 2018 – before the Brickyard 400 to discuss the unlikeliness of their popularity.

“I don’t think I fully understand it, but I certainly appreciate it,” Elliott told Earnhardt. “For me, I’ve always tried to do my own thing and stay in my little circle, so I think sometimes that keeps you from understanding what the outside public thinks. That’s my choice, and that’s how I like things.”

“I never understood my celebrity or my popularity,” Earnhardt replied. “None of it ever made any sense to me – and it might not ever make any sense to you.”

Popularity is something both drivers know well. Chase’s father Bill Elliott had a stranglehold on the honor from 1984 through 2002 – stepping aside only three times when Darrell Waltrip won in 1989 / 1990 and when Elliott removed his name from the ballot in 2001 to make way for Dale Earnhardt Sr. to win posthumously.

Being named most popular driver “would be a great honor to have,” Elliott said. “It’s not one of those things that I like to go and promote myself for. I don’t like to go out there and say, ‘hey vote for me.’ I want that to be a natural and genuine thing for somebody to go and vote.”

Fans can cast a vote for a single driver once a day at www.nascar.com/mostpopulardriver or on the NASCAR Mobile app. If fans share their vote on Facebook or Twitter, it will count double.

For more, watch the video above.

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Scooter Gennett pays tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr.

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Dale Earnhardt Sr. is gone, but certainly not forgotten.

His legacy lives on – not only in NASCAR, but in Major League Baseball as well.

Cincinnati Red second baseman Scooter Gennett will carry a tribute to the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver in the MLB Players Weekend with a jersey emblazoned with Dal3 on the back and Goodwrench-inspired shoes.