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Collected Wisdom: Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR driver

With the NCAA Final Four being held just a few miles away in Arlington, Texas, basketball was a hot topic at Texas Motor Speedway this week. Dale Earnhardt Jr.said he’s pulling for Florida, since he had the Gators winning it all on his bracket.
by Scott Wright Modified: April 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm •  Published: April 5, 2014
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It’s already been quite a season for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR’s most popular driver won the season-opening Daytona 500, and he heads into Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup points leader.

On Friday night, Earnhardt made it to victory lane as an owner, when his No. 9 JR Motorsports car driven by 18-year-old Chase Elliott — the son of legendary racer Bill Elliott — won the Nationwide O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

Chase Elliott’s first win came 16 years to the day after Earnhardt won his first Nationwide (then Busch Series) race, which was also at Texas Motor Speedway in 1998.

With the NCAA Final Four being held just a few miles away in Arlington, Texas, basketball was a hot topic at TMS this week as well. Earnhardt said he’s pulling for Florida, since he had the Gators winning it all on his bracket.

On Thursday, Earnhardt posted to Twitter an old photo of himself as a junior-varsity basketball player with his team at Oak Ridge Military Academy in North Carolina — clearly showing him as the shortest player on the team.

I scored two points that year. I sat on the bench a lot. Didn’t have any skill. I only played because you got to leave campus for road games. Being able to leave, even for a day at military school, was an amazing vacation, just to leave for a few hours. After the game, you go get pizza or whatever. You didn’t have those luxuries on campus. But I had fun.

My one basket, I threw it up with my eyes closed. The only way I knew it went in was that Kelley (sister) and the other 10 or 12 people who were there were screaming when it went in. So I knew it went in, but I never saw it. Some guy was jumping at me, and I just closed my eyes and threw it up.

It was rough back then, but a lot of good memories, a lot of fun, thinking about practicing and being on a team. I hadn’t played much organized sports at that point in my life, so that was pretty fun. Plus, being able to get out of military school for a day was great, being able to see the outside world.

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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