Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 | 5:04 p.m.
While talking with members of the media on Thursday at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt Jr. mentioned that he might be willing to race for another 15 years. Well, that has got to be sweet music to NASCAR’s ears. Having the most popular driver in the sport continue to race will keep a tsunami of fans interested in stock-car racing and will keep the Dale Jr. merchandise machine rolling. Even if Jr. never wins another race, I bet there would continue to be a legion of dedicated fans that would follow his every move.
I did notice one thing that was a little striking as I watched him being interviewed by the Speed Channel during yesterday’s practice. His speech and mannerisms are reminding me more and more of his father. It’s always been unmistakable that he’s an Earnhardt when he speaks. Maybe I’m a little crazy, but as he gets older, he seems to resemble his father more than he has in the past.
Larry McReynolds mentioned during Thursday’s practice that the Cup cars are now running the largest restrictor plate in 20 years. With a little more room to play with in the throttle, the drivers will have some extra power when they need it as opposed to running a smaller plate that would require racing with the throttle wide open just to maintain momentum. This, combined with the lifting of the no-bump drafting rule, could keep us on the edge of seats our tomorrow.
You may have heard that the Las Vegas Motor Speedway has invited President Barack Obama to be the grand marshal for the Sprint Cup race on Feb. 28. The offer was extended after the president made the comment in New Hampshire that American’s shouldn’t “blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” President Obama should take the speedway up on its offer and bring Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood with him. The plain-speaking, no-nonsense LaHood has aggressively taken Toyota to task over the sudden acceleration problems with a number of its models. Imagine the reaction in the garage if NASCAR put LaHood in charge of pre- and post-race inspections.