Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, has been questioned by the District Attorney’s office in Talladega County, after what they believe was a wrongful act of retaliation during a race back on April 25, 2010.
Details to the allegations have been kept secret from the media, until a full investigation could be completed because of the seriousness of the accusations against NASCAR’s most popular driver.
Authorities, who are only looking out for Earnhardt’s best interest, said they felt had the allegations been publicized, it could have very well jeopardized the outcome of the investigation along with Earnhardt’s reputation.
Earnhardt, son of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. has never had any serious run-ins with the law, even though he is regarded as a high profile driver in the NASCAR Sprint cup series which makes him a more recognizable target.
It wasn’t until recently that controversy away from the track crept up on Earnhardt, about a much publicized affair with the wife of Tommy Cook, an assistant defensive line coach at the University of Kentucky.
This story surfaced a few days after the race in which Earnhardt is being questioned about, and it couldn’t have come at worse time especially when you look at the problems that Earnhardt is having behind the wheel.
Earnhardt is still under investigation even though an anonymous source leaked the story, after NASCAR fans from around the nation have been flooding the Foxsports offices with letters, inquiring about the sudden disappearance of their furry little mascot.
Digger the Gopher, who was last seen during the April 25 telecast of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, has the fans wondering why he has been on hiatus since that race.
According to sources, Earnhardt claims he inadvertently ran over Digger while participating in the Aaron’s 499, and the injuries sustained by the Foxsports mascot were at one time life threatening which caused the D.A. to investigate whether the act by Earnhardt was done intentionally.
Digger is still receiving treatment for his injuries at an undisclosed hospital, and according to the public relations representative he will make a full recovery.
Even though Earnhardt was caught in the middle of a media frenzy once the allegations were made public, he took the time to answer questions about the incident.
Earnhardt started out by saying that he was making progress and was in a good position to take over the lead, when he noticed a hat that was identical to the one Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush wears to the track.
While fearing that a caution would come out, Earnhardt said he ran over the hat thinking it came from Roush, to keep his driver Greg Biffle from going a lap down.
Earnhardt went on to say that, “he never knew that Digger was wearing the hat at the time he ran it over, and feels the gopher had no right to pop his head up anytime he feels like it, especially when a race is being run.”
Earnhardt did say he was sorry, and he has gone to visit Digger on more than a few occasions.
When Foxsports was reached to get their side of the story, all questions were directed to their publicist who answered them to the best of their knowledge without jeopardizing the investigation.
When asked about the allegations, all the publicist would say is that Earnhardt had no right running over that hat since it was not in the racing groove.
He went on to say that Earnhardt’s intentions seemed to be pointed at injuring their mascot, with no explanation as to why Earnhardt would entertain such a thought, especially when he had no idea that Digger was wearing the hat to begin with.
The publicist went on to say that no further questions would be taken until the investigation was completed.
Some of Digger’s family members were tracked down, and through the help of an interpreter two of his cousins were able to shed a little more light on the story.
Chip and Dale Chipmunk stated that on the day of the alleged incident, Digger wanted to have a little fun with Jack Roush, so he bought a hat that is similar to the one that he wears, and wanted to show his appreciation to the team owner since he knew this season has not been one of their best.
Chip also added that Digger meant no harm, and it was not like he has never popped his head up during a race to begin with.
Dale also added that even though it could have been an accident on Earnhardt’s part, but he also feels that it was intentional especially with all the negative remarks that are directed at Digger during the race by the fans.
Rick Hendrick could not be reached for comment, and NASCAR has stated that Earnhardt would be allowed to compete in their events until a final ruling comes from the D.A.’s office which should be any day now.