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The Inside Line: How 'tweet' it is for Earnhardt Jr.

By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Hey, Dale Earnhardt Jr., welcome to the world of social media.

After winning his second Daytona 500 on Sunday night, Earnhardt, who has been NASCAR's most popular driver for quite some time now, finally joined Twitter.

Through his Nationwide Series team, JR Motorsports, Earnhardt has been registered on Twitter as @DaleJr for several years, but has chosen not to partake on the popular social networking site. That's now changed.

Prior to the Daytona 500, Earnhardt vowed he would start tweeting if he won the race.

Earnhardt avoided four big wrecks late in the race and held off Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski as well as his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, before it finished under caution. The 56th running of the Daytona 500 featured the longest rain delay in event history at 6 hours, 22 minutes.

Nearly 10 hours after the Daytona 500 had started, Earnhardt took the checkered flag at 11:17 p.m. ET. It was time for him to fulfill his promise. Earnhardt sent out his first tweet in the early hours of Monday morning.

Using the hashtag #2XDaytona500Champ, he tweeted, "Tonight seemed like as good a night as any to join Twitter. How is everyone doin?"

Included in his maiden tweet was a photo of himself next to his Daytona 500 trophy (the famed Harley J. Earl Trophy) in Daytona International Speedway's Victory Lane.

Earnhardt has sent multiple tweets since then, and his number of followers quickly soared to over 400,000 as of Monday afternoon. Danica Patrick tops all NASCAR drivers on Twitter with slightly more than 1 million followers.

"I felt like that I was going to join Twitter sooner or later, but I just didn't know when," Earnhardt said during Monday's Daytona 500 Champion's Breakfast. "My teammate, Jimmie, has put a lot of pressure on me and talked to me about joining. He kind of leads the way and sets the standard with how a driver would use social media and how to benefit him and his partners. So I have a great guy to lean on when I have questions. But I'm having fun with it."

Earnhardt became the 11th different driver to win the Daytona 500 multiple times. His first victory in NASCAR's most prestigious race of the season came 10 years ago.

"We had everything just perfect (Sunday) night, and the car kept telling me that it was meant to be," he said. "The car was too good to not win that race. I would have been pretty foolish to have such a good car and not win the race. It just seemed like it was meant to be our night."

Though it was a rain-soaked affair at Daytona, Earnhardt snapped a 55-race winless streak in the Sprint Cup Series, which was not only pleasing to him but his team owner, Rick Hendrick, as well. Earnhardt will take his winning momentum to Phoenix International Raceway this coming weekend.

"I get six days that Earnhardt fans don't ask me when is he going to win again," Hendrick jokingly said. "I've got a vacation until Phoenix, so I'm excited."

Earnhardt led a race-high 54 laps, including the final 18.

"That was a perfect race," Hendrick noted. "Dale drove the wheels off of the car every lap. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) called a perfect race. The pit stops were perfect, and T.J. (Majors, Earnhardt's spotter) did an unbelievable job up there spotting. I was so proud."

Earnhardt has a very busy week on tap before he arrives at Phoenix. After his race-winning ceremonies at Daytona concluded, Earnhardt flew to New York for several media obligations and television appearances, including the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday night. He'll be in Bristol, Conn., on Tuesday for a day full of activities at ESPN's studios and then travel to Los Angeles on Wednesday for further media activities.

"I'm looking forward to all of the places that we've got to go," Earnhardt said. "I'm going to enjoy it. We won a big race and put a lot of effort into it. And I'm going to make sure everybody hears about it."

While making a stop at the Sports Illustrated offices in New York, Earnhardt tweeted a photo of him with professional snowboarder and Olympic gold and bronze medal winner Kelly Clark. Earlier this month at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Clark captured the bronze medal in the women's snowboard halfpipe.

"Came to @SInow in NYC and ran into @Kellyclarkfdn fresh from #Sochi2014!" Earnhardt tweeted.

There's no doubt we'll see plenty more from Earnhardt on Twitter in the coming days, especially as he celebrates one of the biggest race wins, perhaps the biggest, in his career.

02/24 15:33:22 ET


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