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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins the Geico 500: It Was What Was Needed

By: Candice Smith  @Chief187s


Dale Jr Talladega Win 2015

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning his sixth race at Talladega Superspeedway in Sunday’s Geico 500 was exactly what was needed.

It was what was needed for Earnhardt Jr. and his team to get into the season-ending Championship Chase.

It was what Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief Greg Ives needed to fit in and relax in the Cup garage.

It was what Earnhardt Jr.  needed to release some pent up emotion, tell people important to him what they mean to him, and acknowledge his famous late father.

It was what Earnhardt Jr.’s fans, “Junior Nation”, needed to keep their collective fandom positive and upbeat. In reality they never abandon their driver, but wins certainly stoke their passions for him.

And, lastly, it’s what NASCAR and possibly the country needed to see to create such adulation.

It’s no secret that Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular driver in NASCAR. For the last 12 consecutive years he has been voted and awarded this honor.

People love him.

If you haven’t attended a live NASCAR race in recent years perhaps you don’t understand.

If you haven’t been to a live NASCAR race when Earnhardt Jr. led even one lap you don’t understand.

No matter what, the crowd goes insanely wild when Earnhardt Jr. leads a lap. They ALL get to their feet, wave their arms, and raise their voices in pure joy and appreciation of the 40-year-old driver.

When looking at the fans that populate the track during a NASCAR weekend the Earnhardt Jr. t-shirts, jackets, hats, and gear far outnumbers any other driver’s colors.

No other driver commands the same attention, money, or respect that Earnhardt Jr. does.  It’s not that other drivers aren’t more impressive statistically – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart come to mind, but they don’t connect with their fans the way Earnhardt Jr. can and does.

Earnhardt Jr. has simply won the hearts of his fans – nearly all NASCAR race fans.

People love him. They really, truly, unabashedly love Earnhardt Jr.

So, when Earnhardt Jr. can take the lead in a race. When he can keep the lead and, like he did at Talladega this weekend, win the race, the reaction far and wide is astounding.

Usually when a driver takes the checkered flag a majority of the crowd at the racetrack begins to vacate their seats to find their car to go home.

When Earnhardt Jr. wins a race the crowd goes nowhere. They are pinned to their area, cameras pointed on their driver, and celebrating with their hero.

Everybody wants to be a part of the magic. And Earnhardt Jr. makes it that way – a race goer does not merely witness a win from Earnhardt Jr., they are a part of the experience because he includes everyone.

At a time when the country is reeling from social strife, political dissidence, and poor self-image, the microcosm that NASCAR can be shows that its citizens need good guys to look up to, a hero to believe in, and a force greater than themselves to root for.

Is Earnhardt Jr.’s win really that weighty?

Maybe not, but it certainly meant something to a whole lot of people. It made a gaggle of NASCAR fans into a peaceful community.

For a while all was right in the world.

Not everybody was happy but the majority was.

When was the last time the majority felt that way? I’d argue to guess it was when Earnhardt Jr. earned a grandfather clock last fall.

Can he fix a nation? Cure cancer? Make a peaceful world?

No, of course not.

But he certainly makes a lot of people really happy just by existing.

For me, that’s enough.

I’m in awe of the phenomenon that is Earnhardt Jr.

Congratulations on the win Dale Jr.

And good for us who got to live it with you.

Looking forward to next time…





  1. Exactly Candice. Win or Lose, We root for him. The Wins are are Great though.
    Loved his emotion after the race. He now understands and appreciates what he brings to the sport. He is blessed and I am blessed to get to watch him.

  2. Candice love the article, I don’t mind saying I’m a true Jr fan. I’m not ashamed nor should I be. He is a class act, a sincere man! He is his own man struggled out from under the shadow of his father. It was just great to see him expose himself to raw emotion of missing his father or telling everyone how emotional this win was. Keep it up Dale, that championship is waiting for you.

  3. i loved this article you hit the nail on the head I’m a grown man almost same age as Jr and almost shed a tear during his interview he is AWSOME and I hope to at least make a race and get his autograph I’m just so happy for him he earned it thanks …., Jamie M 88 #1

  4. Timothy Ford Malone

    I’m certain the roar, from the crowd, when Dale Jr. leads a lap, can be heard 10 miles from the track. It certainly drowns out the sound of the race cars. The first time you experience this phenomenon the hair will stand up on the back of your neck. It can be quite intimidating. When other aspects of the world disappoint us we have Dale Jr. to turn to, with his clean cut, self-effacing charm, and we breath a sigh of relief.

  5. Practically everyone was a fan of his father. Everyone watched him grow up. Up until recently he seemed satisfied with second best. That was frustrating. “Junior scores another top 15.” It was like he was just going through the motions. Now he has passion! Now he is driven! He is a pleasure to watch and listen to. The fans are finally rewarded and he is now a big part of the show. And that’s very good for NASCAR.

  6. I WAS OUT OF MY SEAT watching talladega every lap jr made was clean and aggressive…i about lost my mind with excitmt the last 10 laps praying that trash wouldnt blowbthe engine. Ive followed dale jr from his very first race and was already a fan of Sr. I knew he knew he had big shoes to fill and whether he wins a championship or not he has earned my loyalty,respect,and admiration.
    From charlty to dedication this man deserves all he has achieved. Im proud to promote him anyway i can even though he may not know it.
    Dale Jr…keep that fire that focus that determination and know we “your fans/friends” are ride or die loyal thru it all and we are proud to be apart of the JUNIOR NATION!!!!

  7. I love Dale Jr. My son, Duaine Kruse has a shrine to his dad and now to him..I have always thought of him as my second son…I’ve never got to see him in person, but we went to the races in Dallas once as a gift, but he crashed early so we left. He has changed for the better since he met Amy. I’m so happy for him and Amy. The thousands of fans can’t be wrong…You go Jr….I will watch every race from my living room..

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