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Earnhardt opens up.

Crash.Net exclusive by DC Williams

For understandable reasons, Daytona International Speedway doesn't often give notice beyond about 24-48 hours for otherwise unexpected celebrity ... um, er, high-profile NASCAR Nextel Cup driver visits.

Whether it be for security reasons or being able to host a driver who shoehorned a last-minute track visit into an already busy schedule, local scribes often get DIS-originated e-mails that quickly turn personal schedules upside-down. Such was the case when the Speedway announced Dale Earnhardt Jr was coming to town, ostensibly to be DIS 'president' for a day.

As press representatives milled about, 'Mr President' arrived in the Bill France Room at Daytona USA. At first glance, everyone knew they weren't laying eyes upon some ordinary corporate executive. Flanked by suits wearing carefully-pressed slacks and starched, long-sleeved shirts, this president-for-a-day was wearing jeans, a
plaid, short-sleeved shirt and blue baseball cap. If he was to be president - if only for a day - it was going to be his way - even though Earnhardt looked as though he wanted to be almost anywhere else.

After being proclaimed president, he and 40 of his closest media friends - at least on that day - took a stroll to a nearby conference room where Earnhardt - faced with a choice of three artist-rendered colour-scheme variations - picked the 3 July Pepsi 400 pace car, announced a record $5.8million race purse and named its grand marshal.

As the crowd started moving ahead to Earnhardt's next 'job', a bold TV cameraman stepped forward. Standing before Earnhardt, he thrust a microphone at him and asked 'what would you like to be doing right now, Mr President?'.

"Heading down to sell some tickets for the Pepsi 400," Earnhardt responded.

The undeterred cameraman asked again 'what would YOU really like to be doing right now, Mr President?'.

"Me and a few of my buddies driving a pace car around this big ol' track," said Earnhardt.

Persisting, the cameraman asked again.

"Mr President, what would YOU REALLY LIKE to be doing right now?"

At first, peering from beneath the rim of his baseball cap, Earnhardt raised his head just a bit, looked directly at the cameraman, threw on a wry smile and twice raised his eyebrows.

Off to sell tickets.

Taking a seat at a counter where the public can buy DIS event tickets, the only thing separating Earnhardt from the soon-to-be fan throng was a bank-like counter and glass window. A young woman now standing before Earnhardt could hardly believe her eyes.

"No, we didn't announce to anyone in the lobby that he'd be here," Speedway senior media director Kenny Kane said, "We would've had a mob scene."



Related Pictures

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS advances to the Champion 4 with his second place finish. Harvick is joined with Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS to the Sprint Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida next Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field onto pit road due to rain during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates on pit road after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the crew of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet team celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Team owner Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Amy Reimann celebrates with Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, in victory lane after Earnhardt won the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish with Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS who finished in seventh place and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Tarkett/Menards Chevrolet SS who finished in sixth place Sunday, October 25, 2015 in the final round of the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Truex, Jr. advances to the Eliminator 8 round of the Sprint Cup Series Chase race. Earnhardt, Jr. and Menard did not advance. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, lead Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 25, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for twelfth position Thursday, October 8, 2015 for Saturday`s first phase of the Contender 12 round of the Chase in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Earnhardt, Jr. joins five other Chevy drivers competing in the Contender 12.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to victory with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Plenti Chevrolet SS who finished in third place Sunday, October 4, 2015 in the final round of the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Harvick and Earnhardt, Jr. will join four other Chevy drivers next weekend in the Contender 12 round of the Chase at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 27, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, races to a twelfth place finish with Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS who finished in fourth place Sunday, September 20, 2015 in the first round of the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Both Earnhardt, Jr. and Newman are in the Challenger 16 which continues next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
(Back row L-R) Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Libman/Menards Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, (front row L-R) Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy/American Heritage Chocolate Toyota, Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, pose for a photo after making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in fifth place Saturday night, September 12, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Challenger 16 Round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase which begins next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Nine Chevy drivers are in the Chase.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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