Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leaving breadcrumbs.
In “Racing to the Finish: My Story,” co-written by Ryan McGee and released this week, Earnhardt chronicles his battles with concussions and the decision to retire following the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. But the book is shedding new light on what Earnhardt had been dealing with for years following accidents and hits at the racetrack, which he was detailing through notes on his phone.
Notes Earnhardt shared with no one.
“It was a diary,” McGee says on this week’s podcast with Kelly Crandall. “Those notes are the really the backbone of the entire book because he knew what he was doing was wrong, he knew he felt terrible. And every day he would take notes – had a little impact at so-and-so race Sunday, felt a little drunk Sunday night, woke up Monday morning, the room was spinning. But by the time it hit Wednesday, Thursday he would feel OK so he’d go race.
“When he got out of the car in the middle of 2016 he had been keeping this diary for probably two years. He said he did it for two reasons: Number one it was because it helped him keep track of how he felt because by the time it would hit Thursday he’d forget exactly how it felt on Monday. He was keeping a breadcrumb trail. The other part, and this is scary … because if something were to happen to him they could look on his phone and go, oh my gosh, he was going through all this.
“He knew it was a secret; he knew it was a mistake.”
In this week’s podcast, McGee discusses the process of working with Earnhardt and reconstructing events, how the book shares details and information the public – including Earnhardt’s family – did not know, as well as why Earnhardt fans should read the book for closure following his retirement.
“If a Dale Jr. fan reads this book and they say he should be driving, or they still say it’s all Amy [Earnhardt’s] fault, or if they still say [yada], any Junior fan that reads this book and still says that,they have already decided before picking the book up that’s what they were going to say.”