Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Why NASCAR Fans Like Fights And Controversy

When Tony Stewart got out of his wrecked car and chucked his helmet at Matt Kenseth during last week's race at Bristol, many NASCAR fans found it to be highly entertaining.

As it turns out, some of the drivers did, too.

"What's funny to the majority is going to be funny to a race car driver," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "Especially if you had a history with either one of the guys involved in the deal, it makes it a little more personal. ... It's just as entertaining to me as it is to you or anybody else."

Earnhardt Jr. said he assumes fans feel the same way he does when he watches the NFL: He lives vicariously through the emotion seen on the field.

"I'm sure everybody watching the race has somebody's neck they'd like to wring," Earnhardt Jr. said. "There's probably a co-worker or two they wouldn't mind running their fist into his face."

When reporters chuckled at his comment, Earnhardt Jr. said he wasn't really joking.

"It's probably more likely than you imagine," he said.

On a similar note, Jimmie Johnson said fans like seeing fights for the same reason everyone watches reality television.

"People like to watch train wrecks and people like to watch controversy," he said. "We're all intrigued and you love to be a voyeur and check it out. Most of us dislike being in that situation when it happens, but it sure is entertaining to watch."

When Earnhardt Jr. watches football, he loves seeing a physical player make a big hit or express his emotions on the field. Since drivers are limited to what they can do with their cars, it makes a big impact with fans when someone like Stewart throws his helmet.

"(Fans) really connect to that emotion," he said. "It's like if you're driving down the road and somebody cuts you off on the highway, you'd like to shoot them the bird or something. And maybe you do."

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