The simple words jumped off the screen yesterday scrolling through the seemingly endless list of email in the inbox:



Fair to say, it got my attention. Almost as if he were speaking out loud—kinda like in that Nationwide Insurance commercial with Danica Patrick when he says, “Looks like her ride just disappeared.” Pulse racing, opened the email, and instead of a couple of complementary VIP tickets and garage pass from Dale Earnhardt, Jr…. Bristol Motor Speedway presented an “exclusive Members Only Package” that promises “See Dale Jr. in person.”

OK, I’ll admit, the first thing I did was ask the male NASCAR fans in my household if they’d received an email from Junior. Negative—Did I feel just a little bit smug? You bet. Can only imagine the thousands of Members Only VIP packages sold through that clever promotion.

Voted NASCAR’s Favorite Driver for nine straight years, Junior did not attain this honor because he’s won seven Cup Championships like his father. He did not even receive the fan vote in 2002—the year after Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died at Daytona—Bill Elliott (Awesome Bill from Dawsonville) claimed that prize. But Dale Jr.’s won that vote every year since.

Maybe it’s the down-to-earth good nature, the sense that he’s uncomfortable with a microphone shoved near his mouth, the way he sometimes stumbles over his words, or that playful smile. He may have inherited many of his dad’s legion of fans back in 2001, but 11 years later, it’s definitely all Junior. Perhaps it’s because he never tried to be the Intimidator or walk in the #3’s shoes. Or maybe it’s just Junior being Junior.

Dale Jr.’s just seriously cute. Adored by the masses, even the female fans didn’t seem to mind when Junior broke their hearts by introducing long-time girlfriend, Amy, in Victory Lane at the Michigan Motor Speedway in June.

Meanwhile, Junior Nation holds its breath, hoping that 2012 is the year that Dale Jr. brings his first Sprint Cup Championship home to Whisky River—Junior’s sprawling ranch that features a replica old West Town, a regulation dirt track, an eclectic collection of multi-era stock cars—near Mooreshead, NC. Hey, he even has the car Juan Pablo crashed into the jetdrier during the 2012 Daytona 500. Vintage Dale Junior.

Yes, chicks really dig those bad boys, but sometimes it’s the good ones who capture your heart. Junior’s definitely one of those! Your father would approve—unless, of course, he’s a rabid Kyle Busch fan—and your mother would probably want to adopt him… so long as he keeps that off-season beard under control. Just saying, Dale.

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