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February 20, 2018

Dale Jr. says Bubba Wallace drove ‘like a veteran’ in Daytona 500

En route to South Korea to cover the Winter Olympics for NBC Sports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. used a layover in Atlanta to produce his weekly “Dale Jr. Download” podcast on Dirty Mo Radio.

Fresh off his duties as Grand Marshal for the 60th annual Daytona 500, Earnhardt reflected on his experience at the “Great American Race” as a newly retired driver. Spending a good portion of his time atop the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsport pit box cheering on Alex Bowman, Earnhardt was impressed with how well the younger drivers of the sport were able to hold their own against veterans.

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Among the fleet of competitors who fall under the youth movement category in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it was Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. who stole the headlines following a second-place finish in Sunday’s race.

After Bubba became the highest-finishing African-American driver in Daytona 500 history, he caught the attention of many — including Earnhardt.

“A lot of people kind of wondered if he had done enough, I guess, to get this opportunity. I never felt that at all or felt like he didn’t deserve the chance,” Earnhardt said in his podcast. “And he went out and proved it on Sunday by driving like a veteran and driving with his head on his shoulders.”

On top of his on-track performance, Earnhardt also noted how well Wallace was able to handle all the pressure on NASCAR’s biggest stage.

“I was watching him all of Speedweeks and he had so many media responsibilities and commitments, more than any other driver by far … multiple times more than any other driver by far,” Earnhardt added. “He was feeling that pressure, man. I think it was probably the most pressure I’ve ever seen any driver deal with. I think he set a new high for handling that type of pressure.”