(WOMR file photo)
There was a time when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ruled over Talladega Superspeedway, but that time was over eleven years ago. On Sunday, Earnhardt ruled the Sprint Cup Series biggest track once again as he led the most laps, 67, and held on to win the Geico 500.
The victory was Junior’s sixth at the 2.66-mile oval, but first at Talladega since 2004! Additionally, this victory was his first of the season and most likely will punch his ticket to get into the 2015 Chase.
It’s a toss-up, which is greater Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s passion for Talladega Superspeedway ,or the Talladega fan base’s passion for Dale Earnhardt Jr.?
But on this glorious afternoon, Earnhardt offered a one-word order to his team over the radio, a message that could be shared with the thousands of his devotees in the stands: “Celebrate!” he proclaimed. And the answer, at least temporarily, was Junior’s passion for Talladega!
The victory came barely 24 hours after Earnhardt had acknowledged a responsibility to perform well here for his fan base, saying, “I feel like I’m supposed to get up there and lead.”
He did just that, leading 67 of the 188 laps, then wove his way into Victory Circle, where he gushed nearly as dramatically as the geyser spewing from an engine that began overheating because of debris on the grille.
Earnhardt sat at the front of what became a long, single lane of traffic until he took the checkered flag.
“I knew that they were going to do something,” Earnhardt said when asked if he was surprise nobody in the line behind him made a final-lap run at him. “I just didn’t know what it would be. Luckily enough when the No. 48 backed up the guys behind him would race. That helped me a ton. I would move and try to put him in front of the guy that wasn’t going to help him the most. I was just doing stuff trying to figure out what I needed to do and hopefully I did everything right. We ended up here (in Victory Lane). I really want to thank – we worked together great with all our teammates today. We raced and passed each other, but we also worked good together when we needed to and we should. ”
“It’s just real emotional,” Earnhardt said. “I haven’t won here in a long time (November 2004), my daddy’s birthday was a couple of days ago (April 29th). It was real emotional. Everything is so good for me right now. I don’t know why I don’t feel like I deserve it. I just feel overcome with a lot of emotion.
“Everything is just so good for me right now. My personal life and my racing and my team I’m with. I just feel overcome with emotion.”
“I’m just blessed. Everything’s going so great.”
Once again, with this win for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway, all is well in NASCAR, Junior Nation, and yes, in fact THE ENTIRE WORLD!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!