clear
Wednesday October 18th, 2017 11:29PM

Earnhardt backs wife, blames himself for 'Clash' debate

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his own statement Saturday.

He defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she felt she had to speak out.

Five days after Amy Earnhardt wrote it wouldn't be "worth the risk" to see her husband compete in next year's Clash at Daytona, the 42-year-old driver explained outsiders don't understand what the family endured as he recovered from concussion-related symptoms last year.

"She's been there for everything," Earnhardt Jr. said. "A lot of folks that may have a different opinion about it weren't there through the whole process. If anyone knows how difficult it was beside me, it would be her. It wasn't a lot of fun for her."

Earnhardt spoke about six hours before making his final Brickyard 400 qualifying run at Indianapolis.

The series' most popular driver announced in April he would retire after this season, in part because of his injury history. Two big crashes last summer forced him out of the final 18 races, and he missed two races during the 2012 playoffs also because of concussion-related symptoms.

But Earnhardt appeared to reopen the possibility of returning to Daytona after winning the pole there three weeks ago, his first since September 2013. To be eligible, drivers must win at least one pole during the previous season, be a previous Clash winner or be a former Daytona 500 pole-winner who still competes full-time on the Cup series.

On a recent podcast, Earnhardt said he told team owner Rick Hendrick that competing in the Clash would be something his wife "needed to warm up to."

She hasn't so far.

"I've received many comments on Dale Jr running the 2018 Clash based on whether or not I give my blessing," she wrote Tuesday night. "Considering his struggles last fall with his injury, we are very blessed that he is now healthy, happy and able to enjoy his final season...and hopefully many years beyond racing. So my answer is simple. It's not worth the risk to his health."

While some Earnhardt fans were upset with the response, Junior said his wife felt she needed to take her opinion to the public.

He also suggested his immediate reaction following the pole-winning run left his wife in a tough spot.

"It sounds like a great idea right off the bat, but maybe it's not worth it," Earnhardt said, explaining the Clash has a higher crash rate than other NASCAR races. "I feel much more in control of my own fate in the remainder of this season and anything I do beyond that, than I do being out there in the Clash, to be honest with you. But if it's something she feels strongly about, we have to sit down and I have to hear her out."

Even if he doesn't compete in the 2018 season-opening race, Earnhardt intends to compete in two Xfinity Series races next season and plans to be involved in the sport in other ways.

And his visibility may not be limited only to NASCAR tracks.

One thing on Earnhardt's Bucket List: Attending his first Indianapolis 500.

"What happened here is a little bit bigger as far as what's happened here in the last 100 years. It's a little bit bigger than all of us. It never gets old coming here because of that," he said after receiving a parting gift from speedway President Doug Boles — a framed No. 8 from Indy's old scoring pylon. "I'd like to be able to come here after I retire, especially for the Indy (500)."

Boles has found creative ways to keep popular drivers in the mix at the track he runs.

Two years ago, for instance, Jeff Gordon drove the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 as part of his farewell tour. The only five-time Brickyard winner also is driving the pace car for Sunday's race.

That may be a safer way to get Earnhardt back into racing.

But first, Earnhardt wants to give his family another way to celebrate his farewell tour — joining Al Unser and Al Unser Jr. as the only father-son tandems to ever win at Indy.

"It would be awesome to win one of the big, key races," he said. "It's a race I think all of the drivers think is important to the series, and it's right up there with the Daytona 500 in terms of importance."

___

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Monster Cup, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Auto Racing, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car Racing
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN, Indianapolis, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Earnhardt backs wife, blames himself for 'Clash' debate
Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his own statement Saturday
4:13PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Trump's new message man deletes inconvenient tweets
One of Anthony Scaramucci's first acts after accepting President Donald Trump's offer to be the new White House communications director was to apologize to Trump
4:12PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Lech Walesa urges protesters in Poland to defend democracy
The spokesman for Poland's president says the leader sees flaws in contentious legislation adopted by the Senate that gives politicians significant influence over the nation's top court
3:56PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Tom Terrific! Britain's Daley beats Chinese off big tower
Britain's Tom Daley pulls off a marvelous final dive to beat the Chinese in men's 10-meter platform at the world championships in Budapest
3:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Spieth will take a 3-shot lead into final round
Spieth will take a 3-shot lead over Kuchar into final round of Open
2:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Spieth, Kuchar separate themselves from field
Spieth, Kuchar separating from field as some weather moves into Open
2:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Alex Bowman to replace Earnhardt Jr. in No. 88 car in 2018
Hendrick Motorsports has picked 24-year-old Alex Bowman as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s replacement next season
12:32PM ( 2 days ago )
Hendrick tabs Bowman as Earnhardt replacement in No. 88 car
Hendrick Motorsports has picked 24-year-old Alex Bowman as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s replacement next season
11:16AM ( 2 days ago )
Hendrick tabs Bowman as Junior's replacement in No. 88 car
Hendrick Motorsports has picked 24-year-old Alex Bowman as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s replacement next season
9:47AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Auto Racing
Kenseth has no regrets over end of the ride with Joe Gibbs
Matt Kenseth has no hard feelings toward Joe Gibbs Racing after he was dumped by the race team this week and has no concerns about his future, even though he has yet to land a job for 2018
7:35PM ( 1 week ago )
Joe Gibbs Racing to replace Matt Kenseth with Erik Jones
Matt Kenseth is out at Joe Gibbs Racing, which is replacing the oldest fulltime driver in NASCAR's top series with rising star Erik Jones
4:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Richmond track changes name, plans $30 million update
Richmond International Raceway is now Richmond Raceway and is due for $30 million in fan-centric redevelopment over the next 15 months
2:32PM ( 1 week ago )
NASCAR
Earnhardt lands pole for what could be Cup finale at Daytona
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start from the pole at Daytona International Speedway and needs a victory to make the playoffs in his final Cup season.
8:19PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Kevin Harvick wins at Sonoma for 1st victory of season
Kevin Harvick raced to his first victory of the season, easily beating Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer on the road course at Sonoma Raceway
7:08PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Kevin Harvick wins at Sonona for 1st victory of season
Kevin Harvick raced to his first victory of the season, easily beating Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer on the road course at Sonoma Raceway
6:45PM ( 3 weeks ago )
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Helio Castroneves wins in Iowa to end 3-year drought
Helio Castroneves dominated the IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway for his first victory since 2014
8:20PM ( 1 week ago )
Josef Newgarden gives Team Penske hope in Iowa
IndyCar powerhouse Team Penske has never won at Iowa Speedway, even though the open-wheel series has been running at the track for more than a decade
5:37PM ( 1 week ago )
Scott Dixon spoils Penske party to win at Road America
Scott Dixon won the IndyCar race on Sunday at Road America to spoil the Team Penske party on the rural road course
6:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Indy Car Racing
Trump's new message man deletes inconvenient tweets
One of Anthony Scaramucci's first acts after accepting President Donald Trump's offer to be the new White House communications director was to apologize to Trump
4:12PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Lech Walesa urges protesters in Poland to defend democracy
The spokesman for Poland's president says the leader sees flaws in contentious legislation adopted by the Senate that gives politicians significant influence over the nation's top court
3:56PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Grace sets major championship record with 62 at British Open
Amazing Grace! Branden Grace shoots 62 at British Open for lowest score in major championship history
3:54PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Venezuelans protest Maduro's plan to rewrite constitution
Protesters are rallying in the Venezuelan capital for a march toward the embattled nation's Supreme Court, chanting slogans opposing President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution
3:51PM ( 28 minutes ago )
They're back! Grevers, Beisel return for another worlds
Matt Grevers and Elizabeth Beisel both thought their careers might be over, but here they are in Budapest for another world championships
3:40PM ( 39 minutes ago )