Some NASCAR fans may wonder if the sport’s glory days have come and gone. Will the drivers, and the pit crews and the garage area ever have the same feel as they did years ago, before massive sponsorships, and large tracks and expensive tickets?

Possibly, not — which is why the passing of a legend of yesteryear hits a NASCAR fan’s heart hard these days.

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Indeed, the passing of acclaimed crew chief Barry Dodson on Dec. 20 at the age of 64 had an impact on even past and current drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Sad to hear of the passing of Barry Dodson,” Dale Jr. wrote on his Twitter page after hearing the news. “He was always incredibly nice to me, from the day I met him. I will never forget how caring and supportive he was.”

The news was announced via Barry’s family, who issued a statement about it to news outlets. “Barry’s passing leaves us all with heavy hearts,” the statement read. “He left his mark in the NASCAR history books and he served the sport with a passion that few will ever match. We love him and we miss him.”

This was a sentiment shared by a number of people, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Barry Dodson’s family,” said Rusty, who worked alongside Barry when he served as Rusty’s crew chief during his championship season back in 1989. “Barry was an incredible leader and one of our sport’s best crew chiefs. We had a lot of success together and had a lot of fun, too. If it weren’t for Barry, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today. He will be greatly missed.”

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Barry also served as a crew chief for drivers such as the late Tim Richmond and the legendary Darrell Waltrip. “One of the unsung heroes of ur sport passed away today,” Farrell write on Twitter. “Barry Dodson worked for me for a short period of time. I’m sorry to hear about his passing. Hhe was a great guy. R.I.P. my dear old friend, God bless, and praying for his family!”

For Dale Jr. specifically, Barry’s passing came amidst a wonderful time for the NASCAR star, who retired from full-time racing at the conclusion of the 2017 season. Not only is he in the midst of watching his wife grow their first little daughter in her womb, but Dale Jr. has also been on the video set of one of his favorite music groups, A Dangerous Summer, working out on his trusty bike and signing autographs for his devoted fans.

Signing stuff (one hour) (helmet visors and posters)

A post shared by Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@dalejr) on

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other drivers mourn the passing of a NASCAR legend Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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