If Dale Earnhardt Jr. were embroiled in a rivalry like the one Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski currently are in, he likes to think he’d try to talk it out and be the bigger man.
But Busch and Keselowski can keep right on exchanging words through the media and on Twitter, as far as Earnhardt’s concerned. Because their spat presents him and the other Chevrolet teams with an opportunity after Kyle Larson’s win at Michigan International Speedway.
“The great thing about (the feud) is that it doesn’t involve the Chevy guys, so we can fly under the radar, hopefully find the speed we need as a manufacturer to be able to go up there and compete with these guys,” Earnhardt said on “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast. “Obviously, Larson wins the race in a Chevy, but aside from Larson we really didn’t have too many cars running up front.”
The final results from Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 were actually more favorable to Chevy than Earnhardt suggested, as six of the top nine finishers sported bowties. But Chevy’s speed deficit was glaring in qualifying, when only three cars qualified in the top 16.
So Earnhardt’s willing to find an edge anywhere he can.
Maybe all the attention on Keselowski and Busch will divert attention from Earnhardt, Hendrick Motorsports and the rest of the Chevy garages. Maybe that allows the Chevy teams to push a rule here or there to find some more pace. Maybe the No. 88 team is able to sneak something through the inspection station as a result.
Maybe, but unlikely. Inspection officials go through every vehicle with a fine-toothed comb, regardless of what the driver is saying on social media. Yet with Earnhardt still looking for his first win of 2017, he’ll take anything he can get.
For the record, he also explained how he would approach a war of words — or the silent treatment — with a fellow driver.
“I’m making you talk to me,” Earnhardt said. “Like, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ … I know by what you said that you don’t want to talk to me, so I’m going to go up to you and talk to you. I’m going to force you to have a conversation.”
So, there you go. Instead of sniping back and forth, NASCAR’s most popular driver will just force you into awkward conversations until you finally get over it. Because he knows that the longer his tiff with you goes on, the more time some other team has to capitalize on the sport’s attention being paid to elsewhere.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images