Earnhardt Ponders Payback

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says the driver he still owes a payback after nearly 20 years is Jason Keller. (Photo: Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Nearly 20 years later, Dale Earnhardt Jr. still thinks about the payback he never got to do.

With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, talk is about bump-and-runs and wrecking one another.

That takes Earnhardt back to his first Nationwide race and the driver he still owes a payback.

Earnhardt said he owes Jason Keller, who last raced in the Nationwide Series in 2010.

The incident took place in 1996 at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Earnhardt was running seventh behind Keller (fifth) and Jeff Green (sixth).

“Jeff pushed Jason into the corner, way up into the marbles in Turn 3 and 4,’’ Earnhardt said. “Jason just turned left and was trying to get back down the track and hit Jeff Green in the quarter panel and he hit me in the door as I was following through and spun me out.

“I always wanted to get Jason Keller back, but I never did. I know Jason is a great guy and I probably would have never been able to bring myself to do it. Some people you get a chance to get back and it’s teed up perfectly right in front of you and you take it and then sometimes you never see them again or you’re never in that position, racing for a win, or never presented the opportunity.’’

Earnhardt was upset with Keller then because “I was running top 10 in my first Busch race. I was trying to make it.’’ 

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