I want to be up front racing.

Second place is just the first place loser. – Dale Earnhardt

Today marks the ten-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death. It also marks the ten-year anniversary of the day that I started watching NASCAR. Even though I wasn’t a fan while Earnhardt was alive, he still added something to my life (I chose public relations because of a story I read about DeLana Harvick, the wife of Kevin Harvick, who drove Dale’s car after his death.). I am a fan of his too, even though I only saw him race for a few laps.

A year ago, I wrote about what happened to me that day. To sum it up, I was bored and flipping through channels. It was the final laps of the Daytona 500, and I stopped for some reason. Maybe it was to see what all of the hoopla was about; I knew several people who were fans. Maybe it was the emotion in the voice of the commentator. I stopped and I watched. And I clung to the Dales. I rooted for them. Then the wreck happened. It was that moment, that something changed and clicked and I became a fan. I have no idea if Dale was still alive if I would be a fan. Because in that moment, it became more than a sport. There was emotion and personailies and there was a story behind it. I wanted, needed to know more. That week, in Time, Brian Williams wrote an essay about Dale. Brian Williams was a fan of NASCAR, and he was everything the sterotype wasn’t and for some reason, I decided that it was okay to like it. And that Sunday, I turned on FOX for the start of the race. My heart broke as Dale Jr wrecked out the first lap. And I never looked back. I’ve been a fan in the good years and the lean years. My heart soared when he won the first race back at Daytona following his dad’s death and his Daytona 500 and other wins before and after. And my heart has broken for him when he left the company his dad founded, and in the numerous other struggles he’s had. I may have days where I lose interest in the sport, but not in him.

Once again, at the end of the 2010 season, I had lost that passion for the sport. It was becoming tiresome. And once again, days before the season begins, my passion has once again been rejuvenated. The 3 month off-season allowed me to forget  all of the things that I was fed up with and become excited. Dale Earnhardt Jr, in the number 88 AMP/National Guard Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Impala will be was going to be leading the pack to the green flag at the Daytona 500 (because of a practice wreck, he’ll be starting at the rear of the field), the race where his dad lost his life 10 years ago, and the moment that I inexplicably became a NASCAR fan. I don’t know what the season (or the race) holds for him. Some conspiracy theorists will have you believe that NASCAR does know. I firmly believe that NASCAR has moved well past the days of cheats, for Dale Jr or any other driver, and it pains me to see this perception in the media. The sport does many things wrong, but not that. Plus, Dale hasn’t won one race in the last four years. You would think if NASCAR was going to fix races, they would have their most popular driver win a little more frequently.Even more so, I believe in the integrity of Dale Earnhardt Jr. I believe that he wouldn’t allow cheating or favoritism, even if it did benefit him.

Boogity, boogity, boogity boys.

Lets go racin’.

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