Earnhardt drove a No. 3 Chevrolet in the Wrangler blue-and-yellow colors, fielded with help from Richard Childress, as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger debuted in NASCAR. The stress and emotion involved were evident in the expressions and comments from Earnhardt, Childress and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. In fact, Junior said beforehand nothing short of a win would be considered a success, and repeated he does not intend to drive a No. 3 again in NASCAR.
The fact that Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski didn't pull out of line to take a run at Earnhardt on the last lap set off the Grassy Knoll buffs. Here's when I'll accept that: When Logano tells me Joe Gibbs told him not pass, Stenhouse says Jack Roush told him not to give it a go, and when Keselowski says Roger Penske ordered him to stay in line. And, then, when Gibbs, Roush and Penske tell me Brian France or Mike Helton told them that's the way they wanted it to end.
Call me naive, but sometimes, things just turn out the "right" way. Earnhardt's win made the fans happy. Let's leave it at that.
Now, if the IRL had somehow managed to have just one American driver finish in the top five of its July 4 race, well, that might have made me suspicious!
Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)
July 7 -- Newsmaker: Jack Beckman. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore.
July 14 -- Newsmaker: Ralph Gilles (Dodge president and CEO). Panelists: Mark Armijo, Jim Pedley. Plus, Larry Edsall.
July 21 -- Newsmaker: Steve Kinser. Panelists: Jim Chiappelli, Keith Waltz. Plus, Bob Margolis.
July 28 -- Newsmaker: Joey Saldana. Panelists: Dave Argabright, Mike Kerchner. Plus, Jeff Burk.
[ Jack Beckman news nugget Thursday . . . ]