Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his nephew Jeffrey haven't always gotten along, especially when it came to Jeffrey wanting to race. It wasn't until Dale saw Jeffrey emerge victorious in an MMA fight that he saw a different kind of fight in him — the kind that would put the dedication and effort into a passion!
"We definitely have gotten a lot closer. It was a lack on both parts to really reach out, but it's cool. I really can't thank him enough for giving me the opportunity. I think the fans are pretty pumped about it."
For the Earnhardts, racing is the family business. So a few years ago when you asked Dale about Jeffrey, he was disappointed in his lack of commitment and angry that Jeffrey didn't "realize what kind of future he could have!"
Here's what Dale says now:
"His focus wasn't where it needed to be. I don't think he grew up anticipating to be a race car driver. So these opportunities are thrust at him, and he's thrown into these cars, and he's around all these distractions. Just around that time, too, he's just starting to go girl crazy. His priorities weren't where they needed to be, and that was the most frustrating part because that really was his chance. That was good stuff that should have propelled him where he wanted to go."
In a response to that, it sounds like Jeffrey understands completely:
"I was definitely a kid and not right on the path. I definitely didn't appreciate the opportunity I had enough. I don't want to say it was given to me, because I want to think I earned it being the driver I am. I definitely think had I worked a little harder for it, I definitely would have went about it differently. I like to think those days are past. It's all part of growing up."
Well then everyone is lucky that racing remains his priority, even with the success in MMA!
Good luck, Jeffrey! Don't worry about making anyone proud by YOURSELF!!
[Image via AP Images.]