Dale Earnhardt Jr Lends a Hand for “Young and Inexperienced” Drivers Wrecking Havoc in the Craftsman Truck Series

Published 02/21/2024, 10:19 AM EST

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The Craftsman Truck Series opener at Daytona was not a racing event that NASCAR would be proud of. For a long time, the series has been unable to put a stop on the young and upcoming drivers and their knack for sparking carnage. Yes, it was carnage at Daytona last week, with a record number of accidents and cautions being flagged during the race. On the back of this wreckfest, the NASCAR community has been critical of the young drivers and raised questions on their racing merits. But Dale Earnhardt Jr has a rather interesting perspective on this issue, one that does not put the young drivers under the bus.

The Truck Series drivers are not seasoned professionals. In fact, most of them are getting a taste of NASCAR racing for the first time at a venue like Daytona. It is indeed unfortunate for the sport to see the dismay by the trucks, but some solutions need to be put in place. This is where Dale Jr’s expertise came into play, as he not only spoke from his experience as a driver but also understood the underlying problem with the help of Corey LaJoie.

Dale Jr explains the technical realities behind crash-laden truck event at Daytona


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A total of 52 caution laps were run at the opening race of the Truck Series at Daytona International Speedway and 12 cautions were flagged. Forget competitive racing action. It was a wreck fest, and neither was it a welcoming sight for fans nor did it help the series’ credibility. Understandably, drivers were scrutinized for their conduct on the tracks. And one of those trying to dissect the matter was Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Speaking on his podcast The Dale Jr Download, he said, “I had a conversation with Corey LaJoie after the truck race, his opinion on why the truck race was such a crash fest. He says the trucks are a handful, a lot of moving around, lot of our control in dirty air. The trucks would get loose in certain scenarios, they will get tight in other scenarios. A lot of young, these young guys have never been in these aerodynamic situations to have an understanding of what to expect.”

So if you’re in dirty air trapped in the inside line and you got trucks moving by you, they are trying to spin you out of that air and trying to pull that truck around. Apparently, it’s very pronounced in the trucks. So not only do we have very young and inexperienced drivers driving in that series, but we’re also putting them in the most challenging situations that anyone in the whole NASCAR ecosystem will be in at Daytona during speed week.

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The questioning bit is an easy part, but not a lot of people have solutions to this issue. However, Dale Jr came up with his own idea on how to curb this crash trend.


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No hard racing, no more crashes


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Dale Earnhardt Jr has never backed out of speaking his heart out, even if it’s against popular opinion. This was the case when he laid out some pointers on how NASCAR could solve the wreckfest issue in the Truck Series. Hard racing is the term often thrown around in the air by fans, but in the case of the Truck Series, these lines are now blurred. This is where Dale Jr feels that NASCAR could intervene and control the ability of the trucks to race hard and thus reduce the crashes.

Figuring out the way to get the trucks to where maybe they don’t race as well together. Why would you want to do that right? Think about the ARCA Series, there was a while where ARCA cars run around the bottom in a line. No one could get a run, nobody could try to pass, but they didn’t hit, they couldn’t get to each other. You could run in that direction with some changes that would make difficult for them to push, difficult for them to race side by side. You’d have a much less exciting race in terms of action but certainly would wreck less trucks.”


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All things said and done, the ball is now in NASCAR’s court. Will they allow the current trend of wreckfest or take control of the situation by implementing new guidelines?

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania


One take at a time

Chintan Mahesh Devgania is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As someone who likes to dive deep into the sport, he often takes up less explored topics to eventually see them make their way into top stories. His report on Toyota’s young recruit, Jade Avedisian, sharing her thoughts on Late Model Racing, was an example of that.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath