Years After Denying John Daly’s Generous Offer, Tiger Woods Left Enamored by Dale Earnhardt Jr’s “Shotgun” as NASCAR Insider Recalls a Heartwarming Story

Published 10/07/2023, 8:25 PM EDT

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Legends are born, but they also leave behind legacies that are etched into the annals of history. One such legend was the Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt Sr., whose untimely death left a deep, scathing wound in the heart of the racing world. But it wasn’t just the sport that suffered; it was his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had to bear the weight of carrying on his father’s legacy. In 2017, Dale Jr. made a decision to hang up his helmet as he orchestrated his swansong, a farewell race at Homestead. As he climbed out of the cockpit of his No. 88 car for the last time as a full-time driver, the pit road at Miami erupted in celebrations, with popped beers and heartfelt cheers.

What followed was a moment that would be etched in the memories of millions, captivating the likes of golf titan Tiger Woods. Recently, ESPN reporter Marty Smith, a close confidant of Dale Jr., shared a behind-the-scenes account of the Homestead happenings on the “Stacking of Pennies” podcast. It was a front-row seat to the story set in the midst of the celebration of a storied career that would come full circle, a whole year later.

Marty Smith recounts Homestead happenings from beers on pit road to the golf’s greatest


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In golf’s lore, John Daly, known as “Wild Thing” in his prime, once extended an invitation to Tiger Woods for a beer. Surprisingly, Tiger declined the offer, however, years later Woods would reveal how he himself appreciates a good shotgun moment.

The story begins at Homestead in 2017, as Marty reminisces about a moment that would stay with him for years to come. Marty recalled, “And that moment where he parks his car on Pit Road in Miami, and all of his guys are sitting on it, they’re firing back beers, and I just went over to interview him for Scott Van Pelt’s show.”

Marty continued, “When we got done, I just told him, ‘Man, I love you.’ And he goes, ‘I love you too, man. You’re one of the greatest people in my life. What are we going to do now?” To which Marty replied, “We’re going to drink one of them damn beers. Throw me one of them damn beers.” And so, a beer was hurled across the car, which the duo shared. A seemingly ordinary moment but what followed was anything but ordinary.

Fast forward to the next March, and Marty finds himself preparing to interview World Golf Hall of Famer, Tiger Woods himself. Sitting at Medalist Golf Club in Florida, as fate would have it, Woods walks in, Marty recounted, “I look up, and it’s Tiger Woods, and I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ So I stand up, and I stick my hand out to shake his hand, and he’s like, ‘Nah, bro, bring it in.’ He gives me this big hug.”

It was a surreal moment for Marty, meeting the golfing legend he had admired for years. But what took Marty by surprise was Tiger’s first words to him: “You want to know the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen on ESPN? When you shotgun that beer with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Pit Road at Homestead Speedway.”

WATCH THIS STORY: “You’re drinking one tonight”, Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveals the time his father forced him to drink something he disliked in front of a $115 Billion Sponsor

Marty, in disbelief, responded, “Well, you go win the damn Masters. I’ll be waiting on you at 18.” Two years later, Woods did the unimaginable by winning another Masters, defying the odds, and making history once again. Marty may not have had that beer with Tiger yet, but this story surely is his most cherished one.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s triumph of resilience in the face of adversity


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With an impressive tally of 26 wins, Junior had not only established himself as a formidable competitor but also as the sport’s most beloved driver. Marty, who shares a deep admiration for Junior, highlighted a pivotal moment in his career: the decision to continue racing after the tragic loss of his father. In the wake of that tragedy, the entire NASCAR community turned to Junior to determine the sport’s fate.

Marty recalled, “I admire him beyond words. I think that his willingness to race after his father’s death is the reason that there’s still a NASCAR because every single individual in the sport… looked right at him to determine whether the sport was going to race in Rockingham, North Carolina, and he chose to race. So everyone raced.”


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Hailed as the Pied Piper of Daytona, Dale Jr, Marty noted his grace in the face of adversity. In 2017, as Junior pulled down Pit Road at Homestead Miami Speedway for his final race, he had just navigated the darkness of post-concussion recovery. Determined to dictate his retirement on his terms, he chose when to step away from the driver’s seat, refusing to let a doctor make that decision for him.

“And when he finished in 2017, he pulls down Pit Road at Homestead Miami Speedway. And you got to remember, too, he just made his way through the darkness at that point of the concussion aftermath, and he was damn sure that he’s going to go out my way. I’m not going to have some doctor tell me when I’m done. I’m going to decide. And so he had decided, “Okay, I’m going to be done with this.”


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As Junior concluded his remarkable career, he left an indelible mark on the racing world, reminding us all that in the face of adversity, true champions race on their own terms, leaving behind a legacy far beyond the asphalt that will forever echo through the annals of NASCAR history.


Written by:

Rashi Shetty


One take at a time

Rashi Shetty is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. Her passion for the world of motorsport extends beyond the thrill of on-track racing, as she finds the behind-the-scenes aspects of car development and sportsmanship equally captivating. Her favorite motorsports moment of 2023 is the NASCAR Garage 56 entry at Le Mans, which she covered extensively at the time.
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