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Earnhardt On Driver Scuffles: That’s Entertainment

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 1 2012

Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart got together in the garages at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. – The dust-up at Bristol Motor Speedway between Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth seemed to have run out of steam by the time the Sprint Cup Series rolled into Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday. But the debate over things like throwing helmets and punches continued in the media center throughout the day.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has managed to avoid participation in any kind of fracas for most of his career, did provide some insight into why fans seem to like an occasional display of temper.

“I’m sure everybody watching the race has somebody’s neck they would like to ring,” Earnhardt said. Maybe they live vicariously through that emotion in some way.

“There is probably a co-worker or two they wouldn’t mind running their fist into his face. It’s probably more likely than you imagine. I assume they live vicariously through [sports].”

Earnhardt said that’s how drivers are reacting inside the car on the track but can’t been seen by fans, while incidents like Stewart’s helmet throw at Bristol are seen over and over on TV replays and on YouTube and other sites.

“When we get out and do things such as Tony (Stewart) did the fans really connect to that,” he said. “[Fans] really connect to that emotion and driving down the road somebody cuts you off on the highway you would love to shoot them a bird or something. Maybe you do.”

He said even other drivers enjoy the show most of the time.

“I think you do get entertained,” he said. “What’s funny to the majority is going to be funny to a race car driver, especially if you had a history with either one of the guys involved in the deal it definitely makes it a little more personal.

“It doesn’t have to be anything as extreme as that. We don’t seek out but we run across each other’s quotes and you see things that happen in the Nationwide Series or the Truck Series and yeah it’s just as entertaining to me as it is to you or anybody else.”

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who grew up in Hapeville, Ga., just a few miles north of the speedway, seemed to see things a lot like Earnhardt. And he prefaced his remarks by saying he was a fan of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and liked his style and that of the competitors of Earnhardt’s era.

“I have a buddy that used to say they wanted to see a wreck because they think: ‘I’m working two jobs, my life is hard as hell, but he’s on fire, so I’m doing better than he is,’” Foxworthy said. “I kind of miss those days in NASCAR. I’m sure that’s politically incorrect, but I loved when Dale (Earnhardt) would get mad at somebody and just boot him into the wall.

“I’m sure I’ll get pulled into the trailer for saying that.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 1 2012
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