Jimmie Johnson Dale Earnhardt

Jimmie Johnson reveals how Dale’s fans turned against him

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Jimmie Johnson reflects on an incident during a playoff race in 2006 that made Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fans turn against him.

That incident came in 2006 when Johnson was vying for his first championship. In an important playoffs race at the Talladega Superspeedway that year, the seven-time champion revealed his three-way duel with Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers. He said:

“Last lap of the race, I am running second and Dale Earnhardt Jr is in front of me, Brian Vickers is behind me, Vickers is a teammate. We have a three car breakaway, cruising down the back straightaway, I’m in the perfect position to set up a pass for the win.

“Dale knows it, Dale doesn’t defend too hard as I make the move to the inside. Vickers is trying to help me pass Dale, little bump drafting going on but the bump draft did not turn out.”

Vickers went on to win the race after he nudged teammate Johnson into Earnhardt’s car who was leading the race at that time. As for Johnson, he went on an excellent run after the race and went on to win the championship.

Speaking about the implications of the incident, Johnson said:

“I lose control of the car, collect Dale, spin out of the race, Brian wins his first Cup Series race at that point in time. And I am so upset clearly, knew it wasn’t intentional, but so upset because of the championship implications.

“Luckily we still rallied back to win, but the emotions were just so high at that point, on my side and on Junior nation. So now not only did Vickers have to sort through some internal stuff and the crash and all that took place. But now he had Dale Earnhardt’s fanbase after him, and for a minute there, I had Dale’s fanbase after me.”

While Johnson surely had the criticism of some of Earnhardt Jr’s fans after the incident but he must have earned them back through the course of his excellent career.

[Read More: Denny Hamlin taking inspiration from Joe Gibbs to run his 23XI Racing team]

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