|Earnhardt chatted with Letterman Monday|
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rolled into Phoenix International Raceway with a suitcase filled with dirty laundry today, following a coast-to-coast media tour to celebrate his victory in last Sunday’s Daytona 500. And Earnhardt said he enjoyed this experience even more than he did after winning his first `500’ in 2004.
“NASCAR did a real good job of structuring out the tour,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. Doing Letterman was really exciting. Going to FOX Studios was a lot of fun and working at ESPN was fun. Every stop was enjoyable and I enjoyed talking about the win and our experiences and sharing that with the fans. It’s been a great week.”
While he left for Speedweeks 2014 hoping for a win in the Daytona 500, Earnhardt admitted not being entirely prepared for the whirlwind, post-500 Media Tour that followed his win. In fact, he said he was forced to fall back on longtime girlfriend Amy Reimann to outfit him this week.
“Amy is good friends with this gal Kristin that works in Charlotte and has helped me a few times. Amy works with her when we need to go to special events and I need to get a sports coat or something. Just by luck, Kristin was in New York working with Lavender; the shop that Amy works at in Mooresville. Just by fate, these people were in New York… so on our flight from Daytona, Kristin was scrambling trying to put together some things. I never had to wear socks or underwear twice, so that was good.
“That is one of the perks to having a good, dedicated girlfriend” laughed Earnhardt. “I don’t know what I would have done without Amy and Kristin. I definitely wouldn’t have represented myself as well as I did this week.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver said he was deeply moved by the reaction of the fans following his win.
“The fan reaction videos were pretty incredible,” he said. “That kid crying… just seeing the reaction from the fans… means probably the most. Hearing from the Redskins (Earnhardt’s favorite NFL team) is pretty awesome. Rendezvous Ribs from Memphis is going to send me some ribs, so that is awesome. All kinds of things keep happening (and) I don’t know what is going to happen next.
“The only bad part about winning at Daytona is that you go to Phoenix and somebody else wins the next race,” he laughed. “Then they are getting the ribs!”
Earnhardt said his main concern now is to get back into race mode in time for Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.
“In my mind, we haven’t celebrated yet,” he said. “We have been going around and talking about the win, but it’s been real subdued. We haven’t cut up any. Due to the responsibilities to the media… things have been very calm this week (and) we haven’t really celebrated the way I like to celebrate. I look forward to doing that when we get a moment to do that.
“I haven’t even seen Steve (Letarte) and the team since we left Victory Lane,” he said. “It will be good to get in the garage. We are going to be talking and joking about that win, even during this weekend.”
He said he should have no trouble refocusing on the job at hand at PIR.
“I feel like I shouldn’t have any problem getting out there on the race track and doing the best I can,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and have had the opportunity to win races and get back the next weekend and do well.
“It should be no problem.”