During his career, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was beloved by fans and the most popular NASCAR Cup Series driver for 15 straight years. However, on the track, it was a different story, and he had his share of rivalries. After he retired, as tends to happen, those beefs with his fellow competitors naturally faded away — with one exception.
For years Earnhardt has maintained considerable disdain for Jimmy Spencer for an understandable reason. Spencer questioned the legitimacy of Junior’s win at Daytona in July 2001, just months after his father’s death at the same track, and suggested it was staged. Earnhardt has referred to Spencer as an “ass****” and said as recently as 2019 that he would never have him as a guest on his podcast. Something changed.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins and Jimmy Spencer questions legitimacy
July 2001 at Daytona. It was the greatest moment of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s career. It was one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history.
Less than five months after Dale Sr. tragically died on the final lap of the Daytona 500, Junior won on the same track for his third career Cup Series win. More importantly, he provided a moment of healing for the sport.
However, Jimmy Spencer was having none of it and saw Earnhardt’s victory from a different perspective. Immediately after the race, Spencer questioned the legitimacy of the win.
“I knew going in that the 8 car was going to win this race,” Spencer told reporters. “Something was fictitious and he was really fast the other night. They were fast down here in February. It’s not ironic that the 8 car would win with what happened here in February.”
A couple of days later, Earnhardt responded:
“It’s really bothered me pretty bad. That’s like the biggest race of my career. That was my biggest win. Aside from the wins that I had when my father was there, that is going to be a day that I’ll always remember. For somebody to question its credibility, question my credibility, I feel like that’s a slap in my face, a slap in my father’s face and a slap in (crew chief) Tony Eury’s face.”
Earnhardt still upset at Spencer almost 20 years later
Spencer retired from Cup racing in 2006. Earnhardt retired from a full-time Cup Series schedule in 2018. With both out of the sport, you might expect the animosity between the two would dwindle over time.
In August 2019, Earnhardt confirmed on his podcast that his contempt for Spencer was alive and well.
“Jimmy Spencer claimed as soon as he got out of the car that there was something fishy about my 2001 Daytona July win,” Earnhardt told co-host Mike Davis. “The greatest moment in my career. Great night for our company, our team. Everybody is out there celebrating, and he’s standing in the garage with a microphone in his face going, ‘That’s fishy. That car’s too good.’ What an ass****. Still is an ass****. I don’t care. He ain’t never coming on this show. As a broadcaster in the booth, I play no favorites. And if I don’t like a guy, I’m still going to call it straight if he does something great. But when it comes to this show, some people will never be on it.”
Upcoming Dale Jr. Download you don’t want to miss
This week during the “Ask Jr.” portion of the Dale Jr. Download, Earnhardt mentioned the upcoming guests scheduled to appear on the podcast, and his co-host Davis did the honors.
“We’ve got Chipper Jones, the baseball player coming up. He’s on deck,” Davis said. “And then, at long last, due to popular demand, Jimmy ‘Mr. Excitement’ Spencer.”
“Oh, you’re going to tell them? You’re telling ’em,” Earnhardt interjected with a big smile.
“Coming into the studio. Gonna be big,” Davis finished. “You excited?” he asked.
“Yeah. I’m ready. Ready to talk to old Jimmy Spencer,” Earnhardt admitted.
“We’ve got a lot to say to Jimmy,” Davis said.
“We do,” Earnhardt agreed.
After years of calling Spencer names and insisting he would never be on the podcast, Earnhardt has finally decided to bury the hatchet. NASCAR fans are grateful because if it’s anywhere near as good as most expect it will be, it’s going to be a podcast fans don’t want to miss.