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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Two-Car Drafts At Daytona International Speedway Are 'Really Weird And Kinda Wrong'

No matter what their background, all of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers grew up with the same mentality: During races, you have no friends.

But since two-car drafting came into prominence at the Daytona 500 this season, drivers have realized they must work with a partner to win a restrictor-plate race. And for Dale Earnhardt Jr., that concept just isn't right.

"When you've got to work with somebody all day long," he said Thursday, "it feels totally unnatural."

During his media session with reporters, Earnhardt Jr. also called two-car drafting "weird" (twice) and said the partnership mentality is "kinda wrong on some levels, to race like that."

"You take care of somebody and then you feel this obligation to take care of them and then you worry about having them take care of you and how that makes them feel," he said. "(I've) been growing up all these years racing and looking out for number one."

Earnhardt Jr. said he wanted to embrace the current style of racing and all the other changes happening in NASCAR, but he's "too damn nostalgic for my own good sometimes."

"You get so used to one way: When you're out there on the racetrack, you're going to do everything you can to win," he said.

The irony of all this is Earnhardt Jr. may have been the driver who first discovered the two-car drafts and started the entire trend.

Kevin Harvick said Thursday morning he realized two-car drafts could work for the first time when he saw Earnhardt Jr. pushing Jeff Gordon through the corners at Talladega a couple years ago.

"That is really where it all started, was Dale Jr. pushing people all the way around the racetrack – and that was before the track was even paved at Talladega," Harvick said. "Ever since that time, everybody saw that and it has evolved to what it is today."

Told of Harvick's comment, Earnhardt Jr. said "I'll buy that" and said a couple other drivers at the time also had discovered it.

"I'm sure there are a dozen drivers in this garage that can claim who did it first," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Everybody out there is going to try to find any advantage. Those are the type of things that crop up. When they repaved those tracks, it made it so much easier."

Now, Earnhardt Jr. said he just hopes the type of racing he may have discovered goes away pretty soon. Once the tracks start to lose some of their grip from the recent repavings, drivers won't be able to push each other all the way around the track anymore and the packs may return.

"It's just different and weird, but it won't be like that forever, I assume," he said. "Hopefully I'm alive and still racing when it goes back to the way it was."

As for Saturday's 400-mile race?

"I appreciate the partnership that I've formed with Jimmie (Johnson) at 'Dega, and we're going to try to work the same magic this weekend," he said. "But only 'cause you have to."