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Dale Earnhardt Jr. sprang into action in March when Bubba Wallace appeared on the I Am Athlete podcast, and co-host and former NFL LB Channing Crowder questioned whether or not NASCAR drivers were athletes. Since that exchange, Earnhardt and the IAA crew have collaborated on a project, producing content for each other’s podcast discussing NASCAR and addressing the underlying question.  

Earnhardt generated some of the most entertaining material by providing ride-alongs around Charlotte Motor Speedway to Crowder and his co-hosts Brandon Marshall, Fred Taylor, and Chad Johnson. During the “Ask Jr.” portion of a recent Dale Jr. Download, the two-time Daytona 500 winner discussed the rides and devoted most of his time talking about Johnson and his “quirky” experience. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. connects with Brandon Marshall and has as guest

Following Crowder’s initial exchange with Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr. reached out to the IAA crew and Marshall. Impressively, within weeks, the former six-time Pro Bowler appeared as a guest on the Dale Jr. Download. 

During their visit, Earnhardt and Marshall discussed a variety of topics, including concussions, anxiety, and the pair’s plans for later in the day, which included all four former NFL players participating in ride-alongs with the two-time Daytona 500 winner around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Marshall cautioned Earnhardt that his top speed ever in a car was 120 mph and admitted he was concerned about going any faster than that. 

“I don’t need that,” Marshall said. “Just give me 120. Remember I told you that’s my max.”

Earnhardt drives players around Charlotte Motor Speedway

The IAA podcast episode aired this week and featured two segments — the ride-alongs with Earnhardt and a sit-down roundtable session with the former players and the driver. 

While the players’ reactions during the ride-alongs varied, the only one anyone really cared about was Crowder’s since he was the inspiration for the entire episode. Crowder admitted he was impressed by the experience of flying around the track at speeds around 180 mph.

“Oh boy. That’s some power there, boy. Goodness gracious,” Crowder said just seconds after the car came to a stop.

As soon as Crowder exited the vehicle, Johnson hit him with the big question on whether or not NASCAR drivers are athletes.

“They hellified drivers,” he answered. 

Calls out Chad Johnson for ‘weird’ behavior

During the IAA podcast, the conversation focused on Earnhardt’s career and what it was like being a NASCAR driver. They didn’t explore any details of the players’ reactions from the ride-alongs. 

Earnhardt did just that on the latest episode of the Dale Jr. Download during the “Ask Jr.” segment of the show, and he focused on Chad Johnson and his bizarre behavior, which started before they ever left pit road.

“Chad, he was probably the more nervous out of all of them. And I might be wrong and I haven’t spent a ton of time around him, and I don’t really truly know his personality, but when he gets nervous, he tries to be funny. He’s like, ‘I’m going to do this without a helmet,’ knowing we’re not going to do it without a helmet.”

However, Johnson wasn’t done protesting.

“He’s like, ‘I don’t want the window net. Don’t put the window net up. You can leave that down, right?’ He’s just kind of kept dragging it out and prolonging us leaving pit road.” 

Earnhardt said Johnson’s odd behavior continued during the run.

“He got in the car and he kicked his shoes off. And then when we’re going around the track he starts waving for me to stop. And we slow down and he’s like ‘my foot got burned.’ We went like three laps, but this was the fourth run so the floorboard of the car had heat in it so I think he could have burned his foot. He was like, ‘I gotta get out. It hurts. It’s burns.’ His ride was a little quirky, kind of weird.”

Crowder might still be hesitant in admitting NASCAR drivers are athletes, but Johnson and his behavior during the ride-along left no doubt that he’s a believer.

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