Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If no accident in 2001, what would Dale Earnhardt have done?

There has been a lot of discussion so far this week at various stops on the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway regarding the approaching 10-year anniversary of the death of the late Dale Earnhardt, who died on Feb. 18, 2001, in a last-lap wreck in the Daytona 500.

Throughout the stops we have met and spoke with many drivers and crew chiefs and team executives who worked with Earnhardt about a variety of issues. One I found interesting on Tuesday was a conversation with Ty Norris, who is now with Michael Waltrip Racing, but also was formerly executive vice president Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Earnhardt was 49 years old when he died and conversation turned to whether Earnhardt had ever talked of retirement plans.
"He had a good three in him left as a driver for sure, maybe more," Norris said. "We hoped that he had a lot more years left because we knew he would be a miserable SOB outside of the race car.

"He'd come in the office all the day and be bitching all the time and we'd be like, 'God Almighty, I hope he races forever.'"

Norris said he asked Earnhardt "at least a 100 times" about whether he wanted to drive a Cup series car from his DEI organization and Earnhardt always responded, "You guys can't afford me."

"Dale said he would never do that to Richard (Childress). He would never leave Richard Childress."

Earnhardt won six of his seven Cup championships while driving for Childress, who continues to this day as one of NASCAR's most successful car owners.

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