His smile is infectious and his exuberance contagious. Nowhere was that more evident than in victory lane after Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally won at Martinsville Speedway. He’s an unexpected combination of vulnerability and a hidden strength born of tragedy that endears him to not only his fans but his fellow competitors as well. When Earnhardt wins it’s difficult not to get caught up in his joy.
During his career, Mark Martin exemplified the best of NASCAR. He was a rare combination of an intense competitive spirit tempered with a moral code that garnered respect both on and off the track. When he retired in 2013, the sport lost one of its most esteemed ambassadors.
There were no helmets to conceal the raw emotion and no sunglasses to hide the tears that glistened below the surface. “Life isn’t just about living,” he reminded us. “It’s about being alive.”
After qualifying fifth, rookie Tyler Reddick scored an eighth place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday night in his No. 8 Richard Childress Chevrolet.
In a storied career that includes 92 wins and four championship titles, he has nothing left to prove. However, there is one accomplishment that would set him apart from any other driver in NASCAR history. A victory at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night would give Gordon a win at every track on the current Sprint Cup circuit.
For most of his life, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has walked in the shadow of his famous father. Each victory has been celebrated while every misstep has led to the inevitable comparison to a legacy that is larger than life.