Dale Jr. fans come out in force in Texas

February 26, 2014, Staff report,

Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. heads to state capital

Texas Motor Speedway hosted Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Tuesday in Austin as part of a nationwide media tour following his victory in the Great American Race.

More than 200 miles away from the Great American Speedway in Fort Worth, fans in the state capital began arriving seven hours before his appearance. The 11-time Most Popular Driver drove into down in a Duck Commander 500-wrapped Team Texas stock car.

“There are a lot of things I like about Texas Motor Speedway,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “One of the things I like about TMS, and this is genuine, is the fan support.”

The two-time Daytona 500 winner felt the warm embrace of an entire state and indeed the Republic of Texas. From San Antonio, Earnhardt received a Texas flag that flew over The Alamo.

The presentation of the flag was part of a fan friendly event where he posed for photos with fans from a radio promotion, signed a slew of autographs and participated in a Q&A session where he shared his thoughts on relishing his second Daytona 500 triumph.

"When I won it early, it was a huge shock," Earnhardt Jr. said of winning his first Daytona 500 in 2004. "The feeling that I had wasn't really joy. It was more relief that I got it out of the way. Then, after another couple years, you wonder if you'll ever win another one. As those years have turned into 10 years, you've really got to wonder if you'll ever feel that again."

Earnhardt Jr. earned his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Texas Motor Speedway in the seventh race of his rookie season of 2000. His next trip to the Lone Star State will be for the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, April 6.

Looking ahead to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the track, the penultimate race in the Eliminator Round that will whittle title contenders down from eight to four in the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, Earnhardt said fans should flock to Fort Worth rather than the Formula One race in Austin the same weekend.

“I’m here to tell people that they (fans) need to see us race because we put on a better show and as exciting as it is to have Formula One back in the United States, NASCAR is where it’s at,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “NASCAR is the best motorsports in the country for sure and possibly in the world. To see the best show they need to come to Texas (Motor Speedway).”