“She Was Just Mad” – Nearly 40 Years Later Dale Earnhardt Jr Gets Flashbacks of His Childhood After His Daughter Expresses Disappointment in His Failure

Published 09/27/2023, 11:49 AM EDT

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It is always nostalgic for parents whenever their children do something like they did when they were of a similar age. That is what former Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr experienced after the Xfinity Series race a couple of weeks ago at Bristol. Junior’s race ended prematurely due to a small fire near his feet, and his daughter, Isla, was not pleased. It reminded Junior of a time when his father was racing at Bristol and he had a similar reaction to when the seven-time Cup Series champion had to retire.

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Dale Jr might have retired from the Cup Series 2017 due to a series of concussions, but he probably will never say goodbye to motorsports. Oftentimes he can be spotted at local racing events and even taking part in the Xfinity Series with the team he owns, JR Motorsports. In Bristol, fans were treated to an extraordinary sight as the 48-year-old led several laps of the race before retiring due to a fire hazard in his car.

Dale Earnhardt Jr reveals the time his father made him cry at Bristol

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Junior did not seem very disappointed with what had transpired, despite having a shot of shocking the world and winning a NASCAR race. But his daughter, Isla Rose Earnhardt, was not very happy with that. So when Junior retired and was brought to the in-field care center, Isla was not elated, to say the least.

Dale revealed on a recent episode of the Dale Jr. Download podcast, “I saw Amy [his wife] and I was like, ‘was Isla really bothered by the fire or just me coming to a stop and getting out, all that kind of hustle and bustle?’ Cause the fire, look man, okay it was just a small little fire but you know, nonetheless, it wasn’t a big deal. Could have been but it didn’t end up being that big of a deal and Amy’s like, ‘No not really. She was just mad you didn’t win’,”.

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The 48-year-old went on to tell the story about how he had a similar reaction to his father, Dale Earnhardt, for not finishing a race at the exact same track, about 40 years ago. Sitting on top of a Comfort Coach van, Junior was watching his father drive in the Bristol night race in 1984.

The Intimidator was in a close title fight against another NASCAR legend, Terry Labonte, who was at the peak of his powers back then. Junior recalled how flawless Labonte was as a driver as he would never make a mistake over even suffer a mechanical issue. Junior said that his father was at the front of the pack in that race but suddenly, disaster struck and he did not take that lightly.

“I look over front straightaway and dad’s spinning around. Just spinning around down, comes to a stop. And I’m like c**p! He was running up front if not leading the race and now there he is sitting sideways on the front straightaway. Nobody hits him, he didn’t hit anything. I’m like “get going, get going” and he’s stuck,” Junior recalled.

“I started crying. So I’m 10. I’m sitting there, I’m not even 10 yet, I was 9. And so, man I just started crying, you know, I was just a 10-year-old kid or whatever and it was just like watching my favorite team lose, right? I was just starting to get really invested in what’s going on,” he added.

So when his daughter had a similar reaction to his DNF on the exact same track, it’s no wonder the veteran went back to his own childhood because that is exactly how he also reacted to his father. Junior had also revealed earlier that he was racing for his daughter at Bristol but was quite nervous before the race began.

Watch This Story: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reveals the Immediate Regret After Entering Bristol

Racing for his daughter, battling anxiety, and leading laps, Junior experienced it all at Bristol

Ahead of the Bristol race, Junior was talking to a reporter on track when he revealed the reason why he decided to race that day was his five-year-old daughter, Isla, who clung to his neck at the time.

“Well, I am racing for my daughter. So that she can see what we like to do, and what we have done all our lives. Just gonna have some fun. I missed Bristol, I ain’t raced here for 6 or 7 years,” he said.

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However, opening up to his close friend Mike Davis on a different episode of The Dale Jr Download podcast, the former Cup Series driver revealed that he was ridden with anxiety long before he had the incident with the fire.

“I was kind of like, I am taken aback by how nervous I was in that moment (Before the qualifying lap). Then in one minute, I was going to be completely on the other side of that extreme. (…) Dude, I don’t know how to not get that way. I wish I wasn’t like that. I wish I wasn’t that nervous or anxiety-ridden,” he added.

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But all’s well that ends well. Yes, he might have had to retire from the race, but he was absolutely fantastic on the night, leading over 40 laps and putting himself in a position to go on and potentially win the event.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. He started his journey as a motorsports fan with Moto GP and Formula One, before gravitating towards NASCAR a few years back. The high-octane nature of stock car racing paired with the racecraft on display drew him into the sport.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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