NASCAR AMERICA: Optimism about team, life suits Dale Earnhardt Jr. (VIDEO)

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In recent years, it’s become clear that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has found the happy balance between his lives in and out of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

A good amount of credit for that can go to two people in particular: Steve Letarte, who served as Earnhardt’s crew chief from 2011-2014, and Earnhardt’s girlfriend, Amy Reimann.

With Letarte’s guidance, Earnhardt re-emerged as a legit contender. In 2013, he finished fifth in the Sprint Cup standings and last year, he delivered his best season in a decade with four victories (Daytona 500, both Pocono races, Martinsville fall). And through it all, Reimann has not just been by Earnhardt’s side but has also spurred him on to enjoy life more.

The son of the Intimidator is seemingly as positive as he’s ever been about himself and his future – which will include a new crew chief this coming season in Greg Ives (Letarte has joined NBC Sports as a NASCAR analyst).

In the past, Earnhardt may not have feared such a change, but he may not have been happy about it. Now, he’s optimistic. After all, his last big change did wonders for him.

“When I got put with Steve, I had a new bus driver, I had a new girlfriend, I had a new crew chief – everything in my life had changed,” Earnhardt recalled in a one-on-one interview with NASCAR AMERICA’s Dave Burns. “A lot of it was a bit unwilling. I was very scared about what was gonna work and what wasn’t. And fortunately, all of it worked out for me.”

For more of Earnhardt’s thoughts on Letarte, Ives, Reimann, and the upcoming retirement of teammate Jeff Gordon, check out the full interview at the top.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”