404 - Erik Jones - Fired by Joe Gibbs Racing; Beating Kyle Busch; Racing After His Father's Passing
When the dust settled on the 2022 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. got to fulfill a broadcasting bucket list item: declaring that the No. 43 was the winner. On this week’s episode of The Dale Jr. Download, he and co-host Mike Davis sit down with the man who helped make it possible, the Petty GMS driver of the No. 43 NASCAR Cup Series car, Erik Jones.Erik’s start in racing came when his mother read in a magazine about children competing in quarter midgets. Soon after, his father, Dave, bought a car, a book on set-ups, and the Jones family racing operation was off and running. At the age of 12, he graduated into the pure stock class and explains that after his first outing he was told by tech officials not to return due to his on-track aggression. Erik got his first big break in his racing career when he got the call to shake down Kyle Busch’s late model at the Nashville Fairgrounds. The connection came through spotter Brandon Lines, and even though he had limited seat time in a super late model, he was able to produce impressive lap times at the famed oval. When Erik scored his biggest victory to date later that year in the Snowball Derby, beating out Busch to do so, a lasting impression was made. Not long after that Busch and executives at Toyota Racing were lobbying on behalf of Erik, and the efforts led to an agreement with Joe Gibbs Racing.Once he was sitting in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 truck, Erik’s meteoric rise through NASCAR’s national series began. He notched his first Truck Series victory in just his fifth attempt and went on to win the series championship in his rookie season. He also made waves in the Xfinity racing pool, winning six times through 2015 and ‘16. Erik explains that since he was having on-track success, he didn’t apply himself as much outside of the race car as he could have. When he arrived on the Cup scene in 2017, the unprecedented grind put a magnifying glass on his lack of preparation.Erik’s transition into the premiere division of stock car racing was made difficult by another factor as well: the loss of his father in 2016. As the racing season began, his father was diagnosed with stage-four melanoma. Erik would fly to and from Michigan while competing full-time in the Xfinity Series to spend as much time with his father as he could. He and Dale relate to the process of having conversations with a parent in their final stage of life and having the opportunity to be completely honest and open with them. Erik explains that competing in the Cup Series was a shared dream for him and his father, and his perception changed in the wake of his passing. The conversation also covers Erik’s release from Joe Gibbs Racing following the 2020 season. Erik gives great insight into the vulnerability and embarrassment a driver experiences when being let go from a race team. He recalls the painful ordeal of having to tell his family and friends as well as having to finish out the season with a crew that he would be leaving at the end of the year. Erik channeled positivity through the low point and eventually became excited at the prospect of a new start. That opportunity came in 2021 when he signed on with Petty GMS to take over the famed No. 43 ride. After the challenging process of having to start over, the team has turned around in the 2022 season with Erik scoring a major victory at the Southern 500 and being in contention for wins week in and week out. Through it all, Erik has been resilient through the ebb and flow of the racing world and it appears that his brightest days still lie ahead. DIRTY AIRResponse to the Ben Kennedy episodeBubba Wallace and Kyle Larson’s dust-up at VegasKurt Busch retiring from full-time competitionCole Custer’s future with SHRASKJR presented by XfinityDale’s updated final fours for Cup and XfinityInnovation fishing tournamentsRepaving of Rockingham New iRacing Championship trophy
404 - DIRTY AIR - Bubba Wallace vs. Kyle Larson; Ben Kennedy Aftermath; Dale Jr. Reacts To Kurt Busch Retirement
405 - DIRTY AIR - Dale Jr. Announces A Return to Driver's Seat THIS YEAR
About The Show
NASCAR’s 15-time Most Popular Driver and winner of two Daytona 500s, Dale Earnhardt Jr., hosts his very own podcast, The Dale Jr Download on Dirty Mo Media. Earnhardt and co-host Mike Davis raise the bar with unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and fascinating, first-person insight into the life of a broadcaster, celebrated racer.