This question about his dad just stopped Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his tracks AP Photo/Amy Conn
FILE - This Feb. 21, 2001, file photo shows Dale Earnhardt, left, and his son Dale Earnhardt, Jr., watching from the pit area at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Roush Fenway Racing's seamless reaction in the wake of team owner Jack Roush's recent plane crash highlighted a relatively new concern for NASCAR teams: having a succession plan in place just in case the unthinkable happens to a team's leader. Roush and Hendrick Motorsports have shown that they can stay strong in the face of catastrophe, but the gradual downfall of Dale Earnhardt Inc. provides a cautionary tale. (AP Photo/Amy Conn, File)

It?s not that often that people can make Dale Earnhardt Jr. speechless. But recently, a reporter from the Charlotte Observer did just that.

In fact, the question would make any NASCAR fan scratch his head ? in this day of fancy cars, fancier sponsorships and extravagant rules that can often handcuff drivers and their teams, would Dale Earnhardt be able to make it in NASCAR these days?

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?That?s a good damn question,? Dale Jr. replied. ?I?ve never been asked that question before. (He pauses.) If Kyle Larson can do it the old-fashioned way, on pure talent ? you know he don?t have a pocketbook ? I think anybody can. I think Dad would certainly have had opportunities to have cleaned up his edge a little bit. Not so much his on-track persona ? nobody wanted him to do anything different there. But these days he would have had more tools at his fingertips to help himself be a bit more marketable to sponsors. But anyway, there are people who want that kind of guy. He might not have had to change a thing. I have to believe, though, that a guy who just has a lot of talent can still make it out here.?

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One thing that Dale Sr. wouldn?t have loved so much in today?s world, though, might have been technology.

?Dad, he wasn?t too into technology,? Dale Jr. said. ?He was a racer and he worked with racers, and trying to fit technology into your everyday life, accepting all that, maybe he wasn?t quite as open to that. He wouldn?t like Twitter. He wouldn?t like social media. ? And I bet he still probably wouldn?t have his own laptop.?

Tricia Despres is the contributing editor for Rare Country, based out of Chicago, Illinois. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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