Just over 12 hours after Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrated his second career Daytona 500 title, the driver made SI one of his first media visits, stopping by SI Now’s New York studio to speak with show host Ryan Asselta.
Sunday’s Daytona 500 was delayed over six hours due to inclement weather, but Earnhardt Jr. eventually crossed the finish line first after a rain-soaked day at Daytona International Speedway. Even though delays can cause drivers to get antsy, Earnhardt Jr. said he wasn’t bothered by the long wait.
“I’m real comfortable at Daytona. I really enjoy that racetrack and feel at home there,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “So when we had the rain delay, I went to the bus and just ate a bunch of junk food and sat around with my family and watched TV like you do on any other Sunday.”
ESTES: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins rainy Daytona 500, boosts spirits of NASCAR
In addition to the weather delay and Earnhardt Jr.’s subsequent victory, the two also discussed Dale Jr.’s father and what it was like for the younger Earnhardt to race at the venue where his father died. He said that aspects of Daytona International Speedway, like the statue of his late father, remind him of Earnhardt Sr.’s “impact on the sport” and allows the younger Earnhardt to “realize the weight of the moment.”
On a more lighthearted note, Asselta asked Earnhardt Jr. about his decision to start tweeting after Sunday’s victory. “I knew eventually I was going to have to get involved, and I wanted it to matter when I did. It was going to be an event like winning the championship or winning the Daytona 500,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I told Jimmie Johnson - he’s probably the guy who pushes me the hardest to join Twitter - I said, ‘Look man, if I win Daytona this weekend I’ll do it.’”
Sure enough, the driver’s first tweet was a selfie with the Daytona 500 trophy, and a subsequent one was of his dad's statue at Daytona.
And regarding the fact that Earnhardt's Twitter account didn't show him following anyone as of Monday, Asselta asked who might be the first one, and would he follow any of his fans. Earnhardt said he'd probably follow things he's interested in, such as the Washington Redskins and Charlotte Bobcats.
With Earnhardt Jr. now 39 and pushing 40, Asselta asked the Daytona 500 champion whether 2014 would be his final season on the track.
“This is definitely not my last year,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’ve got a lot of racing left in me. I really enjoy what I’m doing, I’m still competitive and as long as it’s fun and (…) I feel like I’m competitive and I belong out there, I’ll continue to compete.”
GALLERY: Classic photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr.