A thank you note to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
By Justin MelilloApril 26, 2017Thank you, Dale.Thank you for being who you are, on and off the track. You are a role model, a gentleman, and an all around good guy. You’ve always had the right personality that many fans have continued to support you for, myself included. Not to say you weren’t a fierce competitor, but you embodied what everyone should strive to be, and that, simply put, is to be a class act.Dale, thank you for your countless years of service to the NASCAR community. You’ve battled through demons most people couldn’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to go through. You had a perfectly legitimate reason to step away for good last season, for your health and for your family, but you made it a point to work harder than ever before and come back. Nobody asked you to, but you still did it. You’re a NASCAR champion, Dale, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To this point, you haven’t won a Cup Series title, and even if you don’t by the end of this season, you don’t need it. You’ve accomplished so much in your decades of racing. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be great to call you the Cup champ, but you are so much more than that. You’ve won the biggest race of the year, twice, and on 24 other occasions, you’ve been in victory lane at the Cup level. You’re a two-time Grand National Champion, back when it was the Busch Series. You’re a championship car owner as well, and I don’t think you are done winning just yet.Thanks Dale for being there for me, even if you had no clue. You were there for so many fans over the years. I grew up watching you race, and I kept coming back to the track because you were there. Haters will say you got your fans because of your daddy, but if you weren’t such a kind hearted, down-to-earth, relatable figure, you wouldn’t be a 14-time Most Popular Driver award winner. You built your fan base because of what you did, and that’s something to be proud of. We are all going to miss you on the track, Dale. I’m thankful that I’ll be able to see you race the rest of the 2017 season.I can’t wait to cover you and the rest of the action when I get back to the media center later this year. Thank you for letting me be your fan growing up, and thank you for letting me cover your career these past few years as a journalist.Thank you, Dale.DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.IMAGESJerry Jordan/Kickin’ The Tires