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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."



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Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, races to his 4th win of the season with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finishing second Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. Gordon now leads the standings in the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 4th win of the season Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. The Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase, which Earnhardt, Jr. is not a contender, continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, applies the winners decal in Victory Lane after his victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eighth position October 3, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Earnhardt, Jr. is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, now in the Contender 12 round of the Chase. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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