AVONDALE, Ariz.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. is gaining on Danica Patrick and Jimmie Johnson—rapidly.
Less than a week after he won the Daytona 500 and established his presence on Twitter, Earnhardt has 527,000 followers, a little more than half the 1.02 million who follow Patrick.
And you can count Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson, who has 552,000 followers of his own, among those who actively encouraged NASCAR’s most popular driver to start tweeting.
“I, among many others, have been pushing him,” Johnson told reporters before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Phoenix. “There have been a lot of people involved on social media—even people from Twitter—who have put pressure on him and come to me to put pressure on him over the years.
“It just wasn’t something he was interested in.”
That changed dramatically after the 500. Earnhardt has been tweeting regularly, including a number of “Throwback Thursday” postings that feature archival photos of his late father, Dale Earnhardt Sr.
“As sharp as he is, and as much time as he spends in the digital world, I knew that, when he got involved, he would love it, and it would work very well for him,” Johnson said. “He didn’t enter as a rookie on Twitter, in my opinion. He’s off to a pretty strong start.”
And don’t expect Earnhardt to stop tweeting or to run out of throwback photos any time soon.
“I’ve got a photo stream on my phone that is like 500 old pictures of my Dad and (grandfather) Ralph (Earnhardt) and Jimmy Means,” Earnhardt said. “It’s just a photo stream that I just collect. … photos that I find.
“There are a ton of people on that, but I got throw back Thursday for years. I’m in good shape there. That’s going to be fun.”