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Original Issue

Just My Type



The son of the Intimidator started speeding as a teenager and never looked back, but he says he's learned a thing or two about driving from hitting some hard objects. Now, about his own nickname....

DAN PATRICK:What was your first car?

DALE EARNHARDT JR.: 1988 [Chevy] S-10 short-bed 4 √ó 4 pickup truck.

DP:First fast car?

DE: Probably a 1999 Corvette that Chevrolet gave me for winning the Nationwide Tour.

DP:Did you get pulled over a lot in the Corvette?

DE: I got pulled over in the S10 more often. From the time I was 16 to 18, I was speeding everywhere. The first two years it was hammer down.

DP:What was it like telling your dad after you got your first ticket?

DE: I got my first ticket leaving the farm. Dad was following me home. We had just had an argument about something—I can't remember what—but I'm hauling ass home. I got about two miles from the farm, and I passed a state trooper and saw his brake lights. I just went ahead and pulled over and waited on him. The state trooper is writing me a ticket, and Dad drives by. I see Dad, and he says, "Did he write you a ticket?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Looks like you need to get a job." I went to the gas station up the road from the house and worked there for several months to pay for the ticket.

DP:You're turning 40.

DE: Yeah, but I feel 30.

DP:You don't look 40. Where did the years go?

DE: Something happened. I don't know. I've been in some kind of time warp.

DP:Are you a better driver now than you were at 30?

DE: I think so. There are little things you understand about patience. The real technical aspects of how to handle a car and drive it through a corner. When you're a rookie, you drive on guts. You don't fear anything. We always talk about guys who are superfast, and we say, "He hasn't hit anything hard yet."

DP:These road races seem to bother you.

DE: It's a sour-grapes kind of thing. I grew up wanting to race short tracks. I didn't care about road races. I never wanted to road race. But there's these two pesky little road races in our schedule, and I have to do them.

DP:When's the last time someone called you Junebug?

DE: I think Darrell Waltrip calls me that every weekend.

DP:How was that nickname growing up?

DE: It wasn't that bad when I was a kid. But I've outgrown it quite a bit. I'm still a kid in Darrell's eyes, I guess.

DP:Can you tell Darrell to stop?

DE: I don't give him a hard time about it. He's earned it. He's one of my elders I have to respect.

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