351 - Will Cronkrite: The Storyteller

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He's not just a humble man with gray hair, an old Goodyear hat, and red suspenders, Will Cronkrite is a former NASCAR crew chief and car owner full of amazing stories that Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants the world to hear. His #96 car gave Dale Earnhardt what many consider to be his big break in NASCAR and Dale Jr. gets the low-down on how it all happened. As a "scrawny kid" he stood in his father's truck at Cronkrites shop as they readied the car for the World 600, a part of Dale Jr.'s life that Will brings to life in this fascinating conversation. The story was so much more! How did Willy T. Ribbs and Humpy Wheeler help create a chance that would springboard The Intimidator's career? Cronkrite details the early days of a father and NASCAR Hall of Famer.

Cronkrite's life changed with the tragic death of his wife and children. It was at this moment that everything pivoted to Auto Racing. He took his intense work ethic and desire from the cornfields of Ohio, to Indianapolis, and eventually the top-ranks of NASCAR. Along the way, he worked with legendary drivers like Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Donnie Allison, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd, and more. He also worked around some characters, like tough Minnesotan Joe Frasson. Cronkrite shares a crash story for the ages with Frasson, bloodied, insisting on Cronkrite taping his hand to the steering wheel.

Before he arrived in the southern stock car world, Cronkrite experienced a different side of racing in the Chicagoland area. He reveals how things were different in racing up there and how he was rewarded with diamonds for good performance. He also tells the tale of a gruesome fight that led to jail time and the fear of what was to happen when he was sprung by a "connected" individual involved in the racing operation. It's a story you have to hear to believe.

Cronkrite talks about many racing topics from DiGard Racing, to working with a gutsy racing pioneer named Janet Guthrie. He also shares stories from his months working on the hit Burt Reynolds movie Stroker Ace, including when Dale Sr. shook down the Chicken Pit Special. The colorful Cronkrite tells a story about actress Loni Anderson and a lucky penny that he still has to this day.

Before bringing in Cronkrite, Dale and co-host Mike Davis have an open discussion about how "me" turns to "we" after marriage. In AskJr presented by Xfinity, we find out what Dale Jr. predicts for 2022 with Roush Racing and new co-owner driver Brad Keselowski. He also talks about going radio-style at the Glen and the origins of his popular skeleton driving gloves.

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366 episodes