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May 1st, 2010
RICHMOND, Va. — He may not be winning races, leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings or be embroiled in an internal feud like his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, but make no mistake — Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is making headlines.
A day after announcing he will be racing his late father’s famed No. 3 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona Int’l Speedway in July, Earnhardt denied a report by the National Enquirer that he had an affair with Amy Reimann, wife of University of Kentucky assistant defensive line coach Tommy Cook.
For the 35-year-old NASCAR super star who is no stranger to being in the spotlight given his famous lineage and perennial fan-favorite status, it’s not the first time his name has appeared in the pages of the Enquirer, which alleges the affair caused the demise of Reimann and Cook’s marriage.
“We’ve been in there a lot. I don’t know why we keep popping up in there. I guess we are relevant in some realm,” Earnhardt told reporters Friday at Richmond Int’l Raceway, site of tonight’s Heath Calhoun 400. “You learn a lot of new stuff about yourself that you never knew before.
“There is no truth to that particular story or any of the other ones, for that matter if we want to set the record straight,” he said, adding, “The Enquirer is pretty creative. I have to hand it to them.”
As for the collaboration between JR Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. for the July Daytona race, Earnhardt said he was a little hesitant about racing his father’s iconic blue-and-yellow Wrangler No. 3 at first, but felt that “if there is a time to ever do it, this is one of those times” as the car will pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. two months after he is posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
“I think everybody knows that I am pretty careful about all that kind of stuff. Shoot, man, if we really had wanted to wear it out, we could have run the No. 3 all over the place. It just seems like a reasonable opportunity,” Earnhardt said. “At first, I was uncomfortable about it, but the more I kind of see everybody together and the car itself and stuff like that, the more I get excited about it and the more I am happy about doing it.
“Being his son, I feel like this makes me feel good to do it. It makes me feel good to go out there and honor him. Going in the Hall of Fame, I am pretty proud of that for him. So, you just want to bring a lot of awareness of that.”
And while Earnhardt said he understands that some fans might be “uncomfortable” seeing the No. 3 on track again, that shouldn’t prevent other competitors from using the No. 3 — now or in the future.
“If someone wants to run the No. 3, let them run the No. 3. Numbers are numbers. I don’t think that even if somebody does run the No. 3, I don’t think anyone is going to forget what Daddy did with it. It is ridiculous to try to retire numbers or favor numbers for certain drivers,” he said. “The No. 3 meant a lot to Daddy and meant a lot to a lot of race fans, but there is some kid that is growing up that really was never a Dale Earnhardt fan but he drives the No. 3 and he might want to be the No. 3 all his life and to not give that guy that opportunity just isn’t fair.”