“Make It Awkward” – Dale Earnhardt Jr Taken Aback by Parker Kligerman’s Integrity Move After Darlington Debacle

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LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 16: Dale Earnhardt Jr. on camera prior to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff South Point 400, on October 16, 2022, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV.(Photo by Christopher Trim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr is a jack of many trades. He was a Cup race winner and Xfinity Series Champion. Presently, Junior is the Co-owner of JR Motorsports. At the same time, he is also an NBC analyst covering the Xfinity and Cup series. Naturally, such a diverse portfolio is bound to cause a conflict of interest from time to time.
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The Xfinity race at Darlington had the potential to create a tricky situation for the Hall of Famer. Thankfully, his NBC colleague, Parker Kligerman, came to his rescue.
JR Motorsports’ Dale Earnhardt Jr Worried to Take Sides in Sam Mayer-Parker Kligerman Episode
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Dale Jr’s driver, Sam Mayer, had an on-track incident with Kligerman that would infuriate any racer. Kligerman’s #48 Chevy strove for a playoff position in the race. However, Mayer’s #1 Chevrolet came behind Kligerman on the 3rd corner and hit him despite having free lanes available. Only 6 laps remained in the race when Kligerman spun off and lost precious playoff points because he finished 24th.
Mayer, who still managed an 11th-place finish, was rightfully apologetic about the accident. But Dale Jr was more worried about his sensitive position of being the team owner of one racer and a professional colleague of another.
In his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, he recounted the uncomfortable moments in the race.
via Imago Dale Earnhardt Jr and Parker Kligerman. Credit: Imago
Dale said, “I guess you know the biggest moment in the race was, for me personally, I guess the Sam Mayer’s Parker Kligerman lane. Parker works for NBC right and he’s been a pit reporter for us for years. And I’ve gotten to know him, great guy, does a lot of great things in the sport, in and out of the car. But he’s finally gotten this really great opportunity, driving that 48 car this year. And he’s done some good things with it. And he has really tried to work them into the playoffs. That would be a great box for them to check.”
Junior was worried Kligerman would resort to fisticuffs with Mayer after the fate of his race. But he wasn’t aware that the two drivers were friends. Although Mayer was enraged after the collision, he maintained his calm and displayed his ire through words instead of actions. Dale Jr. did not expect this act of integrity but was relieved, nevertheless.
“I didn’t know him and Sam and Sam’s dad, those guys had a relationship. So Sam goes down the corner and runs him over, right? Just knocks him out of the way and spins him out. Big mistake! Sam owned it. I thought Parker is going to, aw cr*p, Parker is going to get out and say things that are going to make it awkward. But he gets out and he goes, ‘I’m friends with him, we’ll talk. He’s won races, he just does dumb stuff’…everything Parker says is factual. Yeah, so, that was the only awkward point.”
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Junior further talked about the growth Mayer displayed this year and explained why Mayer doesn’t win more races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr Admits #1 Driver Still Has a Lot to Learn
Sam Mayer is a talented driver whose skill and enthusiasm were on full display in his first full season of racing last year. He procured eleven Top 5 and nineteen Top 10 finishes in the 2022 Xfinity season. He capitalized on those waves of success by adding two wins at Watkins Glen and Road America this season.
However, the year came with its own share of controversies, first with Ty Gibbs and now with Parker Kligerman. Mayer’s team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr felt Mayer improved with each subsequent race, but not without collateral damage.
via Getty BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 15: Sam Mayer, driver of the #21 Manpower Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practices for the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 15, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
“We’ve talked about Sam you know trying to learn and generating his race craft and getting better, finish races, get to the end of these things. He’s fast, he’s fast but. He’s fast but. This happens, this happens, this happens.”
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Junior acknowledged he won races this year, but Mayer often followed those with multitudes of errors. Dale Jr revealed the team’s conversations with Mayer over the results of his races and how Mayer’s oversight lost his potential victories.
“Obviously this year he’s got to victory lane a couple times. Starting to see some of the things in his head clicking, where he is learning how to make less mistakes. Even this year man, lot of races, fast cars, lot of mistakes. But he’d still get this good result at the end of the day and he’ll go, ‘Hey, I got a good result man’. We’re like, ‘yeah, but that thing you did with at Lap 10, that’s why you didn’t win the race. And he’s like, ‘Oh!’”
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Dale Earnhardt Jr Snubs Longtime Friend Over Mayer-Gibbs Fiasco
Luckily, this time, Kligerman ensured the Darlington fiasco didn’t blow up into a storm. But Dale Jr would definitely want Mayer to race with a more mature mindset before JR Motorsports lands in any future trouble.

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