Dale Earnhardt Jr. Quietly Listens During Podcast as Tony Eury Jr. Defends Teresa Earnhardt’s Actions Following Dale Sr.’s Death

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the strained relationship with his father’s widow, Teresa, has been well-documented. Junior has talked about that relationship on his podcast multiple times, including offering details of how it got so bad.  

This week the NASCAR Hall of Famer welcomed a familiar face and previous guest on the Dale Jr. Download, cousin and former crew chief Tony Eury Jr. The pair recounted both the good and bad times from their days together, and at one point, Eury was asked his perspective on what happened with the company after Dale Sr. died. He discussed those challenging days and surprisingly defended Teresa’s actions. Earnhardt quietly listened. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s rocky relationship with Teresa

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt stand together
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt, are on hand for the NASCAR Cup Series Champion’s Celebration. | Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s relationship with Teresa went south not long after the tragic death of Dale Sr. in the 2001 Daytona 500. During an episode of the Download last year, Junior visited with former executive vice president of Dale Earnhardt Inc., Ty Norris, and admitted his father’s death changed the way he viewed the company and its ability to fulfill his father’s vision.  

“In my mind, I lost all confidence in this becoming what Dad wanted it to be when he died,” Earnhardt told Norris. “We could try. We had a hell of a ’04. It was awesome. Won six races. Cars were fast. Cars got power. We’re winning plate races and all the things. On paper, we had good success. But I just knew without him here to help us keep that vision heading that direction we just weren’t going to hit that target.”

Earnhardt said everyone wanted his father’s common-sense approach and willingness to communicate what he wanted. Following his death, Teresa took control, and the level of communication dramatically changed.

“You had Teresa over the top of all of it making things difficult to understand,” Earnhardt said. “The information from her and the direction she wanted this to go, she wasn’t as open about that as Dad was. Dad was: ‘Here’s my vision, everybody. Everybody on the same page.’ Teresa wasn’t stand up in front and tell a story and tell us what’s about to happen. She was behind the curtain and quiet.” 

Tony Eury Jr. defends Teresa’s actions

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr. are family. It’s obvious every time the latter comes on as a guest on the podcast. The pair don’t shy away from being open and honest with each other about their past. Eury’s latest appearance this week was no different. So when show co-host Mike Davis asked him what he thought about those times when Junior and Teresa were at odds with one another, including during contract negotiations and the battle over company ownership, he didn’t hold back. 

“I don’t want to talk bad about Teresa because Teresa’s done a lot,” Eury said. “You know, she has issues and other things, but, at the end of the day, when she’s sitting there, she honestly thought that the Dale Earnhardt legacy was so big that she didn’t need Dale Jr. 

“And for her personal deal, yeah, we want to keep Dale’s legacy but at the end of the day, DEI can’t survive without Dale Jr. Every contract, every sponsor, everything is tied to him. If it’s a sponsor going on the 15 car, well they want, somehow, they want to be tied to Dale Jr. They want to have something that’s connected to an Earnhardt name. You’re sitting there looking at all that and you’re like, ‘this ship’s taking on water.’

Eury further explained what he meant by not being bad to Teresa and shared an interesting story of interacting with her soon after Senior’s death. 

“Y’all had issues, whatever,” he said. “But at the end of the day, when I drove back into that place in 2001 from Dale being killed, she was in that guard shack and waved at every person that pulled into that shop. That little black glove come out, and I was like, well damn, if she’s here, I’m here because we done had our conversation. 

“And two, I look at it as, OK, she just lost everything that she had. Like Dale was her shining knight. Why would she want to go back to a race track? She just lost everything because of that. You’ve got Dale and Kelley, but they’re not hers. All she’s got is Taylor. Why would she even want to go back to the race track? 

“For her, to keep that business open for another seven years, and for her to have to go to the race track to where she lost everything, it’s got to be hard on her. It’s got to be. When you love somebody like that and you lose them there, you don’t want to go back. You went down there for Daytona before we run that baseball car for two weeks just to make sure that your head was right.”

“Yeah,” Earnhardt acknowledged.

“I look at that with her, and it’s like, man, I kind of feel sorry for her in a way,” Eury continued. “It was always we had Teresa standard time. You know, she done things on her schedule. And because she wouldn’t show up to events at the DEI deal, it costs us a lot of sponsorship. It costs this and that. But at the end of the day, I can’t blame her.”

“I think that’s fair,” Earnhardt responded. “Absolutely.”

While Dale Earnhardt Jr. is recognized for his on-track accomplishments and his work as one of NASCAR’s greatest ambassadors, he’s shown a much more personal side on his podcast through the years. And he’s revealed someone who is compassionate and genuinely cares about other people, what they think, and what they have to say. That was quite obvious in the exchange with Eury. He likely didn’t agree with everything he said, but certainly understood where he was coming from.

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