Dale Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR’s most popular driver, but apparently, nobody told him that.
Earnhardt told NBC Sports after his early exit from the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola that he “didn’t expect all that attention” he received from fans in the buildup to his final start at Daytona International Speedway. Although Earnhardt said he’s open to returning to the Daytona 500 in the future, Saturday was his last race at the track as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver’s race didn’t go according to plan, as he suffered a flat tire in Stage 2 and had his day brought to an end by a wreck in Stage 3. But despite his misfortunes, Earnhardt still was mostly focused on whether the fans were given a good show during his pit lane interview.
It’s easy to see why Daytona went all out for Earnhardt. Athletes nowadays often take themselves much too seriously, but Earnhardt’s sole focus is giving back to NASCAR fans.