Dale Earnhardt Jr Gets Twitter Account After Winning Daytona 500
One would think that if you’re consistently rated the most popular athlete in your sport, that you would be onboard with the social media wave and all it has to offer. This seems especially true if that sport is something like NASCAR, where a direct connection to fans is as critical to success as driving the car itself.
Yet, for auto racing’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., avoidance of social media has been met with scrutiny. That is, until he won the sport’s second most coveted trophy, the Daytona 500.
At 40 years old, the famed racer has some rather big shoes to fill. He not only holds the namesake of one of NASCAR’s most iconic drivers, but he shares the racing stable with champions Jeff Gordon and six-time series champion, Jimmie Johnson. The loss of his father at the same track in 2001 would also be a crowning moment for the junior Earnhardt. He finished second in the first race of his first full season at the sport’s highest level. He would go on to win his first Daytona 500 in 2004.
Dale Jr., as he’s known amongst fans, has always strived to make a name for himself outside of his family name. Even a controversial move to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 wouldn’t keep him from being NASCAR’s most popular driver. As part of his reasoning to keep his private life more private, he refused to personally interact on social media such as Twitter or Facebook. Instead, he would have his public relations people and his sister Kelley, who serves as her brother’s business manager, handle social media interactions for him.
This resistance to social media, however, is far from resistance to technology. Dale Jr. is an avid video gamer and music lover who can often be found playing online racing simulators. He has also appeared on several pop culture programs and has cameo appearances in several movies and music videos. His personal choice to mute social media would come to an end after winning the 2014 Daytona 500.
In a slip of the tongue, former NASCAR driver-turned-sportscaster Darrell Waltrip said on air that Dale Jr. mentioned that he would take up social media if he won the race. This sent his fans into a hashtag frenzy, and sure enough, the fan favorite won. Being a man of his word, Dale Jr. set himself up a Twitter account and began posting from Victory Lane. Thus, a new social media star was born.
A Match Long Overdue
Since then, Dale Jr. has amassed over half a million fans, and has been tweeting daily. Acquiring nearly a half-million followers a mere 12 hours after his account was activated, the champion has been posting about the media frenzy that comes after winning the race. He has been posting personal thoughts and pictures as well, seemingly indicating a warming up to the social media limelight. His Twitter background depicts him holding a giant trophy, for which he’ll surely need an even bigger trophy case to fit his collection.
Perhaps the most memorable of these is a picture of Dale Jr. standing in front of the memorial statue of his father in front of the Daytona International Speedway. This “selfie” shows a very happy Earnhardt Jr. with the statue in the background. The statue is a re-creation of his father’s pose in victory lane after winning a hard earned first victory at NASCAR’s most coveted race. Fans clearly approve of this and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. now fulfills a seemingly inevitable celebrity destiny; establishing a Twitter feed.