Welcome back, readers.
FYI... For now, this season's FAQs will not include race updates. But be sure and check out the tallglassofmilk's blogging at AOL Sports' NASCAR Fanhouse. Thanks to all Answer this... readers who joined me there yesterday for live-blogging of the Daytona 500. I'm positively overwhelmed by the response the first weekend out. A controversial finish sure didn't hurt. (AOL blog stats: "You have written 6,326 words over 15 posts. Your posts are responsible for 50,483 hits in the past 4 days.")
First things first, the post you have all been waiting for.
No longer can I keep it a secret. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finally admitted to falling in love with this...
This... is a Waffle House T-Shirt
In a recent Sports Illustrated interview, NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., confessed to readers that he's fallen in love.
"I got this Waffle House T-shirt I've fallen in love with."
The tallglassofmilk has not confirmed details, but believes the t-shirt's name is "No Grits ~ No Glory."
Stay tuned as this hunk-o'-burnin' love's story burns bright or out.
(Please note: The t-shirt pictured here is not the actual object of Dale Jr.'s affection, but is believed to be a close replica.)
Junebug's Love Boat Has Not Yet Arrived
As a fan of not only the driver, but also the man, the tallglassofmilk hopes that the words "I've fallen in love" are destined to fall from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s lips again one day. It is my sincerest wish that the next time, the object of his affection be a worthy woman, not a t-shirt--or one those video games he keeps on the side.
THE JUNIOR FAQTER
Regular readers know that Answer this... FAQs represent frequently asked questions answered with facts and limited commentary. The most asked question of late, however, is "What is your opinion of the whole 'Dale Earnhardt Jr. situation?'"--the "situation" being Junior's personal life.
More specifically, the partying, the drinking, the women, his inability to commit and overall (im)maturity FAQter. (If you got off-track in the off-season, catch up with the links from last week's The Earnhardt FAQter before proceeding .
Never before has the tallglassofmilk been hounded so frequently to weigh in with my opinion on a matter. I'm happy to oblige my readers in this TGOM Special Super Bowl of FAQs.
"Junior, We Have An Image Problem"
How do I know? Well, it's this thing I have called an inbox. I use it to exchange data with information seekers and information providers. If you're reading this..., most likely you're an information seeker. You were the first to alert me to an image problem. Information providers confirmed an image problem. But let's pick a better starting place.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The Self Image FAQter
"When we go do stuff like the Jay-Z [video], I'm sitting there in awe like, 'How in the hell did I get here?' and 'Why am I here?' People around me all the time have to remind me of the magnitude of me. They're like, 'They want you to come to the ESPYs to present,' and I'm freaked out and scared to death to go do it, or to go be on Jay Leno.
"[Kelley's] always telling me, 'You've got to get more confidence because you're that dude -- you deserve to be on that stage.' And I don't see it that way. So when the media, when you guys write about the position and the leverage that I have, it sort of helps me understand what my sister and all these people have been trying to explain to me these five or six years." [The Boston Globe - Feb. 18, 2007]
Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler thinks that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been slow to figure out how big a public figure he is.
"It's a combination of shyness and, 'Why is anybody bothering about me?' He doesn't think much of himself. I don't mean that in a bad way, [but] he doesn't think he's the greatest. His daddy was good about bringing people down to earth, particularly his kids. He never let them get their heads blown up. He's not puffed up. And what you see is generally what you get, and people like that. It doesn't get much better with a celebrity than that." [Atlanta Journal Constitution - Feb. 18, 2007]
TGOM Thinks Out Loud: "Dale Earnhardt Jr. has got to gain an understanding of his profile before he can effectively manage his image."
Whether he likes it or not, whether his fans, friends, girlfriends, owner and sponsors like it or not, Junior's behavior in his personal life and relationships impacts his professional persona. He is the most popular driver in the most popular racing series in the country and fans are watching his every move--on and off the track.
The women that Dale Jr chooses to date say a lot about him and become a reflection of his character. One needn't look further than Junior's current relationship with the recently-turned-21 year old Elizabeth Peschock for evidence of the importance of a conscientious choice.
Since Junior announced in USA Today in January that he was "seeing someone," numerous pictures of Dale and Elizabeth have "mysteriously" appeared all over the internet. There is endless speculation about when, where, by whom and with what intent the photos were originally posted.
Two things are clear: 1) the photos of the couple, as well as individual photos, were taken with consent and 2) the photos were taken by people known to them. In other words, Dale and Elizabeth were once, collectively, in control of their private photos and their destiny.
It is also evident that Elizabeth herself posted several of the photos over the course of the relationship. Regardless of outside opinion and regardless of what Elizabeth has or might tell Junior or anyone else, only she knows for sure if she was promoting the relationship intentionally or unwittingly by posting the photos online.
Based on my own discoveries and additional background information from a source close to the couple, it is the opinion of the tallglassofmilk that while Junior was trying to "protect" her from the scrutiny of the media and fans, Elizabeth was simultaneously attempting to demonstrate that his proclamation of singledom was a ruse. She was not pleased with her perception as a "local booty call."
The result was disastrous. Not only did Elizabeth leave herself and the relationship wide open to criticism, she opened the door for Junior's fans and primary sponsor to question his judgment.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The Sponsor FAQter
The photos were widely circulated among fans and chatter of alleged underage drinking began almost immediately. Criticism escalated quickly and disapproving fans requested and received comment from Junior's #8 Bud team PR contacts. Many, including TGOM, found the "unofficial" response to be unprofessional, if not downright rude. Anheuser-Busch agreed and Jade subsequently removed his comments.
TGOM contacted Anheuser-Busch regarding the fans concerns and Jade's comments and while they did not have a specific statement concerning Elizabeth's photos specifically, a source told TGOM that the fans'--and stockholders' and other beer sponsors'--concerns had been addressed at a meeting between Budweiser and Junior, his manager and DEI officers--sans Jade. The communication was said to be one-directional: a reiteration of A-B's commitment to responsible drinking, no more embarrassments and no more barely-of-age girlfriends in sight when he is wearing the Bud uniform and/or representing them on or off the track or at Bud-sponsored events.
This... should eliminate the "Why didn't we see Elizabeth at Daytona?" questions.
Dale Jr. has big beeresponsibilities. So do his representatives. Think it's a coincidence that in the midst of all this controversy, Junior hired Mike Davis away from fingerprint? Not me. TGOM anticipates more changes ahead on this front.
Anheuser-Busch General Statement
As a sponsor of NASCAR and Dale Jr., we do not get involved in the management or oversight of the circuit, the race team or its drivers. While we do not necessarily always agree with all of actions of the leagues and athletes we sponsor, we do not have any control over the drivers' behavior or actions outside of company-sponsored events. Having said that, we are adamantly opposed to underage drinking and do not condone this illegal behavior. Since 1982, Anheuser-Busch and its network of wholesalers nationwide have invested more than a half-billion dollars in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to promote responsible drinking and help prevent all forms of alcohol abuse, including underage drinking.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The Incentivizing FAQter
Does Junior need to grow up? Not necessarily. He seems to be enjoying his life. And who can blame him? Is he immature? Hardly. Does he sometimes behave immaturely? Undoubtedly. But there's no law that says a man's gotta grow up and settle down. By his own admission, Dale Jr. is not ready to do so. Does he have a warped sense of relationships and responsibility? Au contraire. TGOM believes he has a healthy understanding of the commitment required to establish and maintain a mature relationship. He is well aware of his shortcomings:
"... if I really had the tools mentally, I could make it happen."
What's missing from the equation? Incentive.
What's the bottom line? He hasn't found it yet.
That almost sums up TGOM's informed and opinionated two cents. One additional, final thought ahead.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The Ulteriorly Motivating FAQter
He might make it look easy, but it's gotta be tough being Dale Earnhardt Jr.--not only because he can't make a move out from under scrutiny, but because he can count on one hand those in his life who have his complete trust. None of use can begin to fathom what must it be like to have to continually question the motives of every single person involved in our lives.
I imagine the process a potential mate must go through to become the girlfriend is an arduous one. And with good reason. I'd be willing to bet that this is the reason the majority of Dale Jr.'s female companions fail to achieve girlfriend status. Junior's path to finding "the one" is a long and winding road. He's not reached the finish line.
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AFTERTHOUGHT: THE MILFAQTER
Overheard at Whiskey River
A source tells TGOM that the disgraceful verbal attack, which took place in early December, was akin to a scene straight outta "Mean Girls" and was in response to Emily cordially paying Londa a compliment.
Junior, who witnessed the unprovoked outburst towards his friend and former companion, did nothing... said nothing...
Emily was visibly saddened and left in tears. She hasn't been spotted at Whiskey River since.
Format inspired by www.overheardintheoffice.com.
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DAYTONA NW&GF SIGHTINGS
Erik Darnell and Amber Moody, Eva Busch, J Mac's Christy, Erica Dewey, Delana Harvick, Katie Kenseth, Connie Montoya, Michelle Gilliland, Lisa Reutimann, Tara Roquemore, Linda Rudd, Jaime Schaffer, Elliott's Sadler's new woman, "T.J.," and Leeann Tweeden
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Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman spend time during the off-season boating at full throttle and kicking back and throwing out a fishing line on Lake Norman.
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THE PERSISTENT FAQ
Q. Does Kasey Kahne have a girlfriend?
A. Not presently. Maybe NASCAR should set him up with Kelly Clarkson. She sure wouldn't mind.
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David Stremme and Whitney Jacobs have thrown in the towel on their relationship, as have Reed Sorenson and Liz Brown.
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DAYTONA'S MOST FAQ
Q. Is Carl Edwards dating Jolie Holiday (pictured right @ TMS in Oct.)?
A. Well, the Speed TV camera operators sure piqued fans' curiosity Friday night when they cut immediately to Carl after Jolie started singing the anthem at the pre-race ceremonies of the NCTS race, but there is no evidence to that effect.
Future Mrs. Carl Edwards wannabes can breathe easy. Carl is still "pretty single."
Single enough, in fact, he agreed to go speed dating.
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SPEED DATING IN THE FAST LANE
Raygan Swan, NASCAR Speed Dating, Daytona - February 2007 (Photo: Len Pepe)
Apparently, being a super-talented racecar driver with washboard abs and a killer smile doesn't guarantee you a match made in NASCAR heaven these days.
Carl: "It's hard to find someone to go out with and feel comfortable, or to find something that is simple. I've been on a couple of good dates, but I'm still pretty single... Obviously there has to be an attraction, honesty is important, intelligence... oh and if she can ride a dirt bike, that would be cool."
Raygan: "For me, dating is like buying gas: necessary but no fun."
Full story: NASCAR speed dating not as easy as it seems
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OPEN LETTER TO
WOMEN LIVING VICARIOUSLY THROUGH THEIR DAUGHTER'S LOVE LIFE AND/OR ENTERING THE UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY OF CYBERSPACE TO DEFEND THEIR DAUGHTER'S HONOR PAGEANT MOMS (AND DAD)
You must resist the urge.
The instinct to protect one's offspring is undeniable. It's quite honorable--and even endearing--that you want to defend my honor.
Please stop immediately, you're making us both look like fools.
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I'm way behind. Most didn't get an email update this week and I have about 1,500 emails and 180 Flickr requests pending (a stack of dishes and laundry, too). Please have patience with me and mercy on my inbox. It is not necessary to (read: DO NOT) send duplicate requests / reminders.
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DAYTONA BLIND ITEM
Which popular NASCAR driver keeps his out-of-wedlock offspring out of sight?
Note to readers: Feel free to leave your guesses in the comments, but the tallglassofmilk won't confirm or deny blind items, so don't bother inquiring about this... Keep the comments short and sweet. Unwarranted personal attacks on the subjects of this site and your fellow readers will not be tolerated.
Q. What is a *blind item*?
A. Urban dictionary: blind item