I'm writing my column for Saturday's newspaper and online on Dale Earnhardt Jr.
I spent some one-on-one interview time with Dale Jr. Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and also listened to him in a group media session with other reporters.
A couple of the more interesting tidbits (with far more to come in the column, which is now posted here):
-- Earnhardt, currently fourth in the points standings, told me that his on-track performance had been so spotty the past several years that going into this season he was worried about his long-term job security. (He is in the fourth-year of a five-year deal with Hendrick Motorsports that expires in 2012, but it sounds like that deal is going to be extended before long).
“I thought it was kind of a make-or-break thing,” Earnhardt said of this season. “I want to be able to run for a long time. I felt like my lack of success might deprive me of that -- deprive me from the opportunity to be in this sport as long as I want to be.”
-- At age 36, Earnhardt remains a bachelor. I asked him Friday if he thought he would ever get married.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Earnhardt said. “I’m not going to say I know I will, because I don’t. It’s a little bit late in the game for me, but there still might be some hope.”