It’s been a constant analysis from Dale Earnhardt Jr. when referring to his friend and former teammate Martin Truex Jr. He’s too clean.
Truex lost the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday due in part to Joey Logano’s willingness to use the bumper when the defending champion would not. Truex spent six laps working to get around Logano without significant contact, succeeded on the last lap, then lost the lead when Logano roughed him up off the final corner.
While some vilified Logano for not matching the style of Truex, most observers agreed that the defending champion was overly professional, and it cost him a chance to win the race — and maybe the championship.
That was the sentiment Earnhardt shared on the latest episode of Dale Jr. Download podcast.
"I was just really surprised that Martin drove him as clean as he did," Earnhardt said. "I was like, 'Come on Martin! Quit being so clean.'
"I told Martin that. Last year, same race, Kyle Busch wins the race at Martinsville. After the race, I was like, 'Martin, why you didn’t you race him hard?'
"He’s like, ‘My mission is XYZ.’"
Earnhardt added that there is a polarity to Truex in the sense that he carries himself off-track like Dale Earnhardt Sr., but that grittiness doesn’t extend to the racetrack.
"Martin is an outdoorsman and he’s a hunter, tough, he’s rugged," Earnhardt said. "The interview that you saw him give Parker (Kligerman on NBCSN) is Martin Truex Jr, that’s him. That’s him when he’s mad. He doesn’t even remember what he said. I asked him afterwards, later that night. He doesn’t even remember what he said to Parker. He’s so mad."
But instead of racing that way, Earnhardt Jr. says he races like another NASCAR great.
"He talks like Earnhardt and races like Mark Martin," Earnhardt said of the always-respectful driving NASCAR Hall of Famer. "I told him that. I said man, 'You ought to talk like Earnhardt and drive like Earnhardt.'"
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