Dale Earnhardt Jr., much like his father, had his share of feuds during his NASCAR Cup Series career. He hated them. Now retired from full-time racing and working in the broadcast booth, he has a much different perspective when it comes to conflicts between drivers. He loves them.
This week the two-time Daytona 500 winner appeared as a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and talked about the ongoing feud between Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe. He spoke of his own experiences and offered the best way to solve a dispute. Unsurprisingly, it’s not through social media. And he said if the pair don’t resolve their issues, he’s fine with it. In fact, he hopes the sport has more long-lasting feuds in the future.
Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe feud over social media
It started back in August at Indianapolis when Chase Briscoe spun Denny Hamlin in overtime. The two drivers had a face-to-face confrontation on pit road after the race, but they didn’t come to blows and appeared to have worked it out.
Hamlin rekindled the fire with Briscoe last weekend at Texas after the rookie driver slammed into the wall while racing side-by-side with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
“That’s what he gets for being a f****** idiot,” Hamlin said over his radio.
That quote appeared on the NASCAR on NBC Instagram account with a photo of the two cars racing beside each other. Briscoe couldn’t help himself and posted a reply.
“If only I had 10,000 races worth of experience under my belt….,” the Stewart-Haas driver said, referencing a 2017 incident when Hamlin apologized to Chase Elliott on Twitter after wrecking him and inexplicably claimed he had raced 10,000 times since he was seven.
“chasebriscoe_14 not sure you’ll get there,” Hamlin replied. “There’s cars racing for a championship. In case you forgot about taking out the leader and costing him 1 championship already this season. Perhaps when you learn give and take you will start to finish better.”
The sparring continued, with Briscoe suggesting he’s not racing for a title but, more importantly, to keep his job. Hamlin recommended the rookie put himself in someone else’s shoes and said that respect is an underrated trait in today’s world.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says social media isn’t the way to resolve the feud
Hamlin told reporters this week that instead of trying a standard means of communication, he opted to “go down to that level” and engage on social media. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that’s a mistake.
“The best way to handle it is to have a conversation,” Earnhardt said. “You’re going to call each other, or you’re going to call that guy on the phone, or you’re going to see him in person at the racetrack the next week and just have a conversation. You don’t have to agree. And maybe nothing comes of it. But I never had any success working it out on social media, I can promise you that.”
Earnhardt said the worst thing either driver can do is ignore it. And for something like that to work out, each individual has to accept some sort of responsibility instead of blaming the other.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. provides different perspectives on driver conflicts
As a fan and a member of the NBC NASCAR broadcast team, Earnhardt admits he loves the feuds and said he would be fine with “multiple rivalries boiling over and lasting months and even years.” He recalled a specific example in the rivalry between his father and Geoff Bodine.
“They went at it for two years, periodically,” he remembered. “Anytime they got around each other they were more than likely going to spin one another out and neither one of them wanted to let the other have the last word. They never would communicate so it would continue to fester. Those are good for the sport.”
Conversely, Earnhardt said when you’re a driver you have a completely different perspective on feuds and it’s not one that any driver enjoys.
“You hate it as a driver,” he said. “It’s a miserable thing to go through when you feel like some guy’s got your number, and he just annoys the heck out of you every time you see him. When I was a driver I hated being in any kind of a dustup because I would see it in the media. I would see it in the highlights. I would see it in the prerace. All the media heads were talking about it and I didn’t like being under the microscope. I didn’t like being in the spotlight for something other than my performance on the racetrack. And you didn’t want to be painted in a bad light. You didn’t want lose the feud. You wanted to be the hero in the feud. And that didn’t always work out. It was never a comfortable situation.”
Earnhardt concluded if Hamlin and Briscoe want to settle it, the best way would be to sit down and have a conversation. And if they don’t go that route and it continues to fester, he’ll be just fine with that.