Earnhardt digresses from fantasy football to pick NCAA bracket

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 22: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2013 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

FONTANA, CA – MARCH 22: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2013 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

FONTANA, Calif. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. hates to lose — even if it involves filling out an NCAA tournament bracket.

Earnhardt, a serious fantasy football player and an avid Washington Redskins fan, ventured far afield this week and for the first time filled out an NCAA tournament bracket as part of a competition with race fans.

“I got asked to do it,” Earnhardt explained during a question-and-answer session with reporters Friday afternoon. “I never filled out a bracket before, so it was my first time. I kind of like to watch the tournament, it’s interesting to see who the Cinderella teams are and how far (North) Carolina can go. I tend to pull for Carolina in college basketball.

“I think Jimmie (Johnson) and I got asked to do it together, so (road manager) Mike Hoag came over to the house the other day and we sat down, thought it through and made my picks. I think I was 11-and-5 (after the first day of play).”

Earnhardt said he enjoyed the challenge.

“Well, I’ve only ever done fantasy football, and I didn’t really know if brackets were even that fun to do,” he said. “It’s my first foray into that. I think it’s pretty fun to do with your friends, but I’m such a football nut and focus so much on fantasy football that’s really all I ever thought about doing as far as fantasy sports go.

“But this is pretty fun. I’m having a good time with it. I hate losing. I hate making the wrong pick. But what are you going to do? There’s a lot of games.”

SHORT STROKES

Greg Biffle led Saturday morning’s Sprint Cup practice session with a lap at 186.253 mph. AJ Allmendinger was second fastest at 186.191 mph…

Three Toyota Camry drivers paced final practice, which should prove closest to Sunday’s race conditions. On a warmer, slicker track, Mark Martin led Happy Hour with a best lap at 183.351 mph, followed by Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer (182.945 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth (182.839 mph).

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