Dale Earnhardt Jr. Spoke for the People on Sunday at the Charlotte Roval and It’s Not What NASCAR Wanted to Hear
Dale Earnhardt Jr. acts like someone who lives by the mantra — honesty is the best policy. Listen to his podcast. He has candidly shared personal stories of his life, including countless tales of a time during his career when he was less than honest with his race car and lived by another mantra — if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.
This past weekend at the Charlotte Roval, Junior watched the same race as everyone else. Watching paint dry comes to mind. He and his booth-mates were challenged with trying to entertainingly describe the action that was less than entertaining. At one point, late in the race, the NASCAR Hall of Famer just couldn’t contain himself any longer, honesty took over, and he communicated what everyone else was thinking.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. watches Roval race with no action
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the rest of the crew had to know it was not a good sign when Joey Logano led the field to the green flag at the Roval from the pole position and never looked back in the race’s first 25 laps, winning the first stage. Unfortunately, it was a precursor of things to come.
Stage 2 was much of the same. In the final stage, Steve Letarte noted near the end of the race how fans had just witnessed history — the longest green-flag run on the Roval at 47 laps. In other words, no restarts and not a whole lot of action with cars that couldn’t pass, which multiple drivers, including Chase Elliott bluntly pointed out after the race.
Earnhardt pleads with NASCAR to break up boring race
With 11 laps remaining in the race and moments after Corey LaJoie and Daniel Suarez made contact, the broadcast revisited an incident between the two drivers several minutes earlier, with Earnhardt and Letarte talking about where it all started.
“Looking at the nose of the 7, I think there’s some damage right here,” Letarte said. “Let’s go back to the first incident. This is coming down into the front-stretch chicane.”
“Corey’s trying to get around the 99 here,” Earnhardt interjected. “They make contact. That spins Corey over here. I thought for sure this was a caution, NASCAR.”
Earnhardt’s final words were a plea. Like everyone else watching, he was desperate for anything to break up the monotony that was undeniably one of the least entertaining races of the year. Just a few minutes later, he got it.
Earnhardt and everyone else’s wish became NASCAR’s command just five laps later when the sanctioning body put out one of the stranger cautions in the sport’s history after an advertising sign made its way out onto the racing surface. Interestingly, it was just the beginning of chaos.
On the subsequent restart, Chase Elliott got used up by AJ Allmendinger, who got used up by Kevin Harvick. The growing storyline over the waning laps was who was above and below the cutline. Those names continued evolving and reshuffled when another caution came out for another bizarre reason — a piece of curb that had broken away and sat in the middle of the track.
Christopher Bell, who had the freshest set of tires and had already worked his way through the field, pulled away from Kevin Harvick on the overtime restart, cruising to a walk-off win and advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
It was certainly a wild finish in the last half hour. But it was those first three-plus hours that were mind-numbingly painful to watch. And Earnhardt confirmed it.