Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Earnhardt Jr.: Gordon showed respect with No. 3 flag

MY INPUT - As always, Dale Earnhardt JR is a class act. And to tell you the truth, I have to agree with him in that I don't see the big deal or controversy except that no likes Jeff (me included). Anyway the story follows.

Earnhardt Jr.: Gordon showed respect with No. 3 flag

CONCORD, N.C. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday he couldn't understand the negative reaction Jeff Gordon has been getting for flying a flag bearing Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 after winning Saturday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Gordon's victory was his 76th win, tying him for sixth with Earnhardt on NASCAR's all-time win list. Immediately after the race, Gordon stopped on the frontstretch and was handed a No. 3 flag, which then flew from his car as he did a victory lap.

"I don't understand the disrespect - what's the angle there?" Earnhardt Jr. said at an appearance at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Basically, when you win a race, it's all about you at that moment. You won, you're happy, you're excited, you're the best of the best. And he decided to split that down the middle, 50/50, and give my father some respect and take half of his moment and give it to my dad. I thought that was really classy."

The flag was the brainchild of Aaron Kuehn, a crewman for Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports team. Kuehn approached Earnhardt Jr. at Junior's birthday party last year to ask him and sister Kelley Earnhardt Elledge for approval, which they promptly gave.

Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday he had forgotten about Kuehn's request - "It was a good party," Earnhardt Jr. said - but still appreciated the gesture.

"They obviously had that planned," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Jeff's been in this sport a long time and knows good and well that acknowledgement and respect is a big deal. If you think about it, that flag rode around in that truck for several months - which my dad would get a real kick about that. The planned that. For them to do that and to take that effort, it was really nice."
Earnhardt Jr. went to victory lane to say thanks to Gordon.

"I could've cared less who won that race that night," Earnhardt Jr. said. "My car was bad - that's why I could've cared less. But when I pulled in the garage and saw Jeff doing that on the big screen, I just wanted to make sure that on this side of the fence and with me that it was really cool and appreciated.

"My dad, he was a big deal to this sport. For him to continue to get recognized on down the road is a big deal to me and pretty important, so I appreciated that."

And for some to not appreciate it makes no sense, Earnhardt Jr. said.

"I don't know how in the world you could take that the wrong way," Earnhardt Jr. said. "That's what's bothering me so bad. Jeff can't win for losing. ... That's unfortunate. He was trying to make a good gesture. That's all that was. I don't think anybody in the world could find anything wrong with what he did. That's a shame he didn't get all the credit he deserved for it."