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DOVER, Delaware — Jeffrey Earnhardt had his own Steve Urkel, “Did I do that?” moment in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Part of Earnhardt’s No. 33 Chevrolet broke on Lap 19, dropping fluid and debris on the track. The mess resulted in Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski smacking each other, ending their respective days in a fiery heap.
MORE: Watch the incident
The malfunction wasn’t Earnhardt’s fault, but the 27-year-old — still looking to make a name in this sport, despite having the name — took it upon himself to reach out to both parties and apologize.
“Yeah, I mean, it sucks when you ruin someone’s day that early. Trust me, it sucked for us,” Earnhardt said Friday at Dover International Speedway, site of Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “I hated our day got shortened, but to take out some front-running guys like that is never something that you want to do. Accidents happen; it’s racing. They are going to happen at some point or another it’s just part of the sport and it sucks. I just felt like I at least owed them the apology.”
Elliott, Keselowski and Earnhardt finished 38th, 39th and 40th, respectively, the worst result of the season for each driver.
On his post-race Periscope, Jeffrey’s slightly-more-recognizable uncle and Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., mentioned that Jeffrey had reached out looking for contact info for Elliott and Keselowski. He didn’t know either of them well enough to have their cell phone numbers.
“I texted him and Brad both and just said I was sorry for shortening their day, but it’s not what we want to see as drivers,” Jeffrey Earnhardt said. “… We are not out here trying to take each other out and ruin each other’s day. When we do, the least you can do is give them the courtesy of a text and apologize. I feel like it’s going to go a long way with those guys and maybe they will return the favor in the future if something was to ever happen where we were racing hard. They will respect you a little more.”
Elliott certainly appreciated the gesture, and it’s little things like that which often go a long way for other drivers in the garage.
“Jeffery sent me a text after the race and he just apologized. And I told him, ‘Man it’s not your fault,’ ” Elliott said Friday in his press conference, which immediately preceded Earnhardt’s time with the media. “It’s just one of those incidents where I was just in a bad spot, he had a parts failure that was not his doing and I get it. I understand that stuff like that happens.
“I appreciate him reaching out and taking the time and effort to do that. It meant a lot to me just because I thought it showed a lot about his character and the kind of person he is. I don’t really know Jeffrey all that well, so it was kind of cool to see what kind of person he is and cares if nothing else. I appreciated it.”