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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Austin Dillon makes pole history; Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he doesn't hang out much with other drivers anymore

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- When he was younger, Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent a lot of his free time hanging out with his friends and fellow drivers in the NASCAR community.

He said that at this point in his career, those days are gone.
“Well, I don’t think it’s by choice I think it’s just the nature of the sport and our age and what was fun five, 10 years ago and what is fun now. I think people go in different directions.  People come and go. Things are going to change in your life.  Things don’t last forever," he said. "I’ve got some great friendships, made some great friendships in this sport.  I still consider a lot of those people friends, but the days of being able to take a weekend off before Daytona and go down and hang out with an Elliott Sadler or Jamie (McMurray) or (Martin) Truex those days are gone.  We had a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed some good times with all these guys that I race with, but you get older and your priorities change a little bit.”

Earnhardt recounted an experience from when he first started racing that showed him how quickly things can change in a friendship in the racing community:

"I learned a really hard lesson back when I race late models and I first got paired up with Gary Hargett to run late models.  That was the first guy I was introduced to that was really going to be a guy that I worked with and a guy that would mentor me.  He became a really close friend.  I was only about 20 years old he was about 55 years old, but he was like a father in a sense.  Just really big time mentor and I just listened to him followed him everywhere he went.  We raced together for several years down at Myrtle Beach and stuff," Jr. said. "Then there came the day when I had to make a change not from him, but I had to make a change where the car was.  We were keeping it down at his place and I wanted to bring it up…Dad offered me the place to put it where his deer head shop was.  I thought ‘man for me to be a better race car driver I need to be working on my car everyday’, instead of driving down there to Union, South Carolina once a week. I knew I had to do that and Gary wouldn’t come up there to work he wasn’t going to drive an hour to work.  I had to make the decision to help myself and then he and I weren’t going to work together anymore.  That was a really tough choice."

Dillon makes historyAustin Dillon won the pole position at MIS on Saturday, which is historic because it was his fourth straight Nationwide series pole. That's never been done before. The first three poles did not translate to a win, so that's the focus now for Dillon.

Allmendinger, Labonte swap rides at MIS; 47 car in troubleThe JTG Daugherty team is doing an experiment this week to see if A.J. Allmendinger can help figure out why the 47 car is so slow this year. Bobby Labonte is in the 51 car this weekend while AJ takes over his ride.

So how's it going to so far? In practice, Labonte in the 51 car is doing much better than Allmendinger, a bad sign for the 47 car. If the car is just plain bad regardless of who drives it, they have a lot of work to do behind the scenes if they have any hope of being competitive in the future.

Ryan Blaney shows some attitudeRyan Blaney is one of NASCAR's top young talents, and after seeing him compete Friday in the ARCA race at Michigan, I have high hopes for his future. Beyond what I've seen from his ability on track in both Trucks and ARCA, he's a fiery young driver, and wasn't afraid to let his feelings be known when an ARCA ruling cost him the race win at MIS, saying he got "screwed". Sure it's a bit immature, but it's a good sign to me when a guy wants to win and anything else is a disappointment. Give him a couple years in Trucks and a couple and in Nationwide and he'll be a strong addition to the Cup series after that maturing process.

Hall of Fame inductionsThe 25th annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony will be held Wednesday, August 21 at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit.

2013 inductees are Jack Chrisman (drag racing), Harvey Firestone (historic), Masten Gregory (sports cars), Brad Lackey (motorcycles), Bud Moore (stock cars), Robert E. Peterse (at large), and Alex Zanardi (open wheel). Returning inductees who will be attending include Bobby and Donnie Allison, Shirley Muldowney, Herschel McGriff and Bobby Unser.

Tickets to the event can be purchased by calling 248-349-RACE (7223). Or visit,


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