Earnhardt Jr in Texas for special 'chase'

EARNHARDT JR. MAKES THE 'CHASE'... WITH LOCAL TEXAS POLICE DEPARTMENT NEXTEL Cup Star Dale Earnhardt Jr. Participates In Pursuit Training With Roanoke PD FORT WORTH, Texas (August 31, 2005) - NASCAR NEXTEL Cup star Dale Earnhardt Jr....

EARNHARDT JR. MAKES THE 'CHASE'... WITH LOCAL TEXAS POLICE DEPARTMENT

NEXTEL Cup Star Dale Earnhardt Jr. Participates In Pursuit Training With Roanoke PD

FORT WORTH, Texas (August 31, 2005) - NASCAR NEXTEL Cup star Dale Earnhardt Jr. was chased by two police cars Wednesday - and when the chase ended he got a pack on the back and a handshake from the officers instead of a ticket.

Earnhardt Jr. participated in a pursuit training exercise with the Roanoke Police Department on the Texas Motor Speedway infield road course. Earnhardt Jr., wheeling a silver 2005 Chevrolet Corvette, was the chase subject as Roanoke's finest were in hot pursuit in fully loaded squad cars with the sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Roanoke Lt. Robert Crawford, Officer James Johnson and Traffic Officer Gary Stroud joined Earnhardt Jr. during the simulation with Lt. Crawford and Officer Johnson driving the squad cars. Traffic Officer Stroud helped end the pursuit by pulling his vehicle across the road course to block Earnhardt Jr.'s path as well as throw down a "spike" strip to simulate an actual highway situation.

Earnhardt Jr. admitted that this was the first time he has been involved in a police "chase."

"I have had them pull some lights on me, but I always pull over and the cut the job short for them," Earnhardt Jr. joked. "This was a lot of fun. The officers were really excited about it and I had a lot of fun with it. I think they learned some things they can use on the streets every day. It was an experience for them. I had a lot more power, but those guys definitely cornered with me. I am sure if we were on a highway or interstate, they would have been more crafty cutting corners and keeping me in sight."

Although it was a publicity event for the upcoming Dickies 500 on Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, it had an educational side for the officers, especially chasing perhaps the most talented driver they may ever confront.

"When we get on the street as law enforcement officers, we wouldn't chase somebody of this caliber," Lt. Crawford said. "At least I hope not. It would be a challenge. It was a good experience for me and our officers.

"I will take some of the information I learned from him (Dale Jr.) and take it back to the police department, items such as cornering techniques. We always want to prevent an accident from happening, taking the safest approach to the situation. We learned a lot about positioning today, be it on the track or the highway. But with him being in a sports car, it was easier. The police car was like driving a tank compared to the Corvette."

Added Officer Johnson: "We probably wouldn't have done anything different in a real-life situation. We kept him in sight and kept matters safe. I think our lines through the corners were about the same as his, he was probably a little quicker getting into the turn as our cars are a bit longer and heavier. The handling is a lot different, but we kept up with him. We chase different cars all the time, I was proud of our officers. We kept up with Earnhardt Jr!"

Earnhardt Jr.'s pursuit ended with Traffic Officer Stroud blocking the road, and the NASCAR star then broke into a series of doughnuts in the 'Vette, filling the speedway infield with tire smoke.

"Doing doughnuts is always a good time," Earnhardt Jr. said with a smile.

-tms-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr.