In what SportsCenter reporter Marty Smith called “the most revealing interview I’ve ever heard from him,” NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy sat down with Smith for a two-part piece that will air in the 10 a.m. ET hour on the Saturday and Sunday editions of SportsCenter.
Earnhardt will compete in the Feb. 25 Daytona 500, his return to racing in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series following a lengthy layoff due to concussion-like symptoms. Selected by fans as the Most Popular Driver in NASCAR’s top series for 14 consecutive seasons, Earnhardt missed the second half of 2016 after crashes at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway.
Smith, who has known and covered Earnhardt since 1998 and covered his entire career in NASCAR’s top series, conducted the interview with producer Michael O’Connor on Earnhardt’s North Carolina farm. Cameras were set up on an indoor basketball court Earnhardt calls the “Dirty Dome.”
“I’ve known Dale for a long time, seen him grow and evolve as a man, seen insecurities of his disappear and the most confident, joyful version of him emerge,” Smith said. “A lot of that is Amy’s influence. She taught him that vulnerability is ok. She showed him unconditional love, and proved it by walking through the darkness with him, personally and professionally. We touched on all of those things during this interview. It was very revealing.”
This excerpt offers a glimpse of that:
SportsCenter will have reports from Daytona this weekend from analyst Ricky Craven and Smith will report during race week.