from thatsracin.com dale jr. and dad
Earnhardt Jr.: Dad helped me get out of burning Corvette
By JIM UTTER
In an interview that will be broadcast Wednesday night on the season premiere of CBS' "60 Minutes," Nextel Cup Series fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. says his deceased father may have played a role in saving him from a fiery sports car crash earlier this season.
Earnhardt's father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was killed in a wreck on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. In an wide-ranging interview with CBS' Mike Wallace, Earnhardt Jr. said it was his father who helped him escape from the burning car in July.
"I think he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car. I don't want to put some weird, you know, psycho twist on it like he was pulling me out or anything, but he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car," Earnhardt Jr. tells Wallace.
"From the movement I made to unbuckle my belt to lying on the stretcher, I have no idea what happened."
Earnhardt Jr. said the feeling of someone assisting him was so real that when he reached safety, he began inquiring about the "person" who helped him out of the burning car.
"I had my... PR man (Steve Crisp)... by the collar screaming at him to find the guy that pulled me out of the car," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He was like, 'Nobody helped you get out,' and I was like, 'That's strange because I swear somebody... had me underneath... my arms and was carrying me out of the car.' I mean, I swear to God."
Wallace then asks, "And that was your dad?" And Earnhardt responds, "Yeah, I don't know. You tell me. It ... freaks me out today just talking about it. It just gives me chills."
Earnhardt Jr. was hospitalized one night after suffering second-degree burns on his chin and the inner sides of both of his legs in the July 18 crash of a sports car at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
He was making his first lap in a 30-minute morning warm-up session for an American Le Mans Series race, when he spun the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R in Turn 8 of the road course, slamming into a barrier.
The car came to a rest, sticking sideways partially back on the track.
After a few seconds, a fireball erupted from the rear of the car and spread quickly, with flames getting into the cockpit where Earnhardt Jr. was still buckled in.
Video replays showed Earnhardt Jr. slumped forward inside the car immediately after the crash as the flames surrounded him, but he managed to begin freeing himself from the restraints and trying to get out of the car.
It took several weeks before Earnhardt Jr.'s burns healed. He twice required a relief driver in races, but never missed a series start.