It’s not that often that people can make Dale Earnhardt Jr. speechless. But recently, a reporter from the Charlotte Observer did just that.

In fact, the question would make any NASCAR fan scratch his head – in this day of fancy cars, fancier sponsorships and extravagant rules that can often handcuff drivers and their teams, would Dale Earnhardt be able to make it in NASCAR these days?

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“That’s a good damn question,” Dale Jr. replied. “I’ve never been asked that question before. (He pauses.) If Kyle Larson can do it the old-fashioned way, on pure talent – you know he don’t have a pocketbook – I think anybody can. I think Dad would certainly have had opportunities to have cleaned up his edge a little bit. Not so much his on-track persona – nobody wanted him to do anything different there. But these days he would have had more tools at his fingertips to help himself be a bit more marketable to sponsors. But anyway, there are people who want that kind of guy. He might not have had to change a thing. I have to believe, though, that a guy who just has a lot of talent can still make it out here.”

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One thing that Dale Sr. wouldn’t have loved so much in today’s world, though, might have been technology.

“Dad, he wasn’t too into technology,” Dale Jr. said. “He was a racer and he worked with racers, and trying to fit technology into your everyday life, accepting all that, maybe he wasn’t quite as open to that. He wouldn’t like Twitter. He wouldn’t like social media. … And I bet he still probably wouldn’t have his own laptop.”

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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