Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s tweet about his dad will have you in tears AP Photo/Amy Conn, File
FILE - This Feb. 21, 2001, file photo shows Dale Earnhardt, left, and his son Dale Earnhardt, Jr., watching from the pit area at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Roush Fenway Racing's seamless reaction in the wake of team owner Jack Roush's recent plane crash highlighted a relatively new concern for NASCAR teams: having a succession plan in place just in case the unthinkable happens to a team's leader. Roush and Hendrick Motorsports have shown that they can stay strong in the face of catastrophe, but the gradual downfall of Dale Earnhardt Inc. provides a cautionary tale. (AP Photo/Amy Conn, File)

On Feb. 18, 2001, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt tore into the fourth turn of the Daytona 500 with the checkered flag in sight, and then the unthinkable happened.

He crashed.

And then he died.

And 17 years later, we all seem to still be in disbelief.

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Yet, a tweet my none other than his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., seemed to perfectly put things in perspective on Feb. 18, 2018, as Dale prepared to serve as honorary grand marshal in the all-American race.

“[Honestly,] I don’t even think about it when the anniversary of dad’s passing comes annually,” he wrote. “He lived so hard and fast. His life was so grand, the date never registers with me for some reason. But I see the comments in my timeline and they are appreciated.”

Indeed, it seems that while the rest of us can’t seem to look at the fourth turn at Daytona without thinking about the day it took our sport’s ultimate hero, Dale has found happiness in a life that might have ended up a little different than he envisioned.


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For instance, who would have thought Dale Jr. wouldn’t be running in the 2018 Daytona 500? Who would have thought he would be married and preparing to be a father? Who would have thought he would be enjoying his brand-new career as a broadcaster, or loving doing a home renovation project in Key West, Florida, as part of an upcoming DIY network show?

“The whole experience has really been educational for me,” he said of the latter project in a recent interview with “Autoweek.” “I’ve had a lot of fun. It’s helped me and [my wife] Amy learn how to work together better. It’s been a great practice for our marriage. You know, genuinely it’s been a great experience for both of us to do this … We started off sort of butting heads a little bit, and getting in there and doing the work wasn’t always a lot of fun, but as we got going and we got more invested in it, it’s been a great experience. And I can’t wait for people to see the whole process. It’s really, really incredible.”

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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