356 - Jade Gurss: Behind Driver 8

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Behind nearly every superstar is a publicist. For a young Dale Earnhardt Jr, the man behind the public-machine that became the Dale Jr and the Budweiser number-eight was a man named Jade Gurss. Not many will know the name, but he was a major player in the growth and trajectory of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Hall of Fame NASCAR career. For the first time ever, Jade and Dale Jr sit down to talk about the good-old-days and some that were far from it.

While doing public relations for Budweiser, Jade was the man managing Dale Jr behind the scenes. From at-track interviews to magazine articles, to appearances on major television shows, Jade Gurss was making things happen. Gurss and Dale Jr talk about some of the biggest things they did together, from presenting at the Video Music Awards, being on the Late Show, to Dale Jr hosting an episode of MTV cribs, it was a publicity path that brought Dale, and NASCAR, to areas of American culture that most drivers never went. Just how did some of it come about and how did the introverted Dale Jr handle being thrust into the spotlight on such a stage? It wasn't always simple. Dale and Jade even joke about sitting between Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore at the VMA's to a blundered appearance on David Letterman's show. The print about the second-generation driver didn't just come in racing publications, the exposure soon rocketed from Sports Illustrated all the way to Playboy and Rolling Stone magazine.

This conversation isn't just a two-way street either. Co-host Mike Davis, a long-time employee, and friend of Dale got his introduction and big opportunity getting hired by Jade Gurss to fill in for him on the Bud-8. The role grew Davis' public relations career to new heights. They reunite and tell stories of what it was like managing a young and difficult driver during years that saw everything from major parties to major appearances. They also put it all out on the table about Davis' decision to leave Gurss and take a full-time job with JR Motorsports. Takes of boxing ring black eyes with Arturo Gatti and rock-star-like bandana coverups highlight this insightful conversation. They also get deep about Dale's Mike Wallace interview and how Dale Jr believed his father pulled him from the burning Corvette racecar at Sonoma. Jade opens up about writing the book about Dale Jr., Driver #8, and the meeting with Teresa Earnhardt and Ty Norris right before it went to print.

Before Jade showed up, Dale Jr and Mike Davis chit-chat about a cute video of Isla, that hints at the desire to be a racecar driver someday. Was it just cute or does Dale take it seriously?

They also talk about the coming-of-age process of Jr Motorsports driver Noah Gragson and how he's developed relationships with sponsors that have helped him grow in his career.

AskJr presented by Xfinity delivers some tough questions for Dale, including one about the role of the flagman that gets him thinking about something he's never paid much attention to. He shares a story about the first time TJ Majors spotted a Cup car and might've exaggerated the green flag call by a few corners. Dale discovers that he'll be racing against his great friend Josh Berry at Richmond this week, as Dale prepares for his lone time behind the wheel of a NASCAR racecar in 2021.

The DJD gang poke fun at each other, mainly at producer Matthew Dillner's expense, and have a great time during this packed episode of awesomeness.

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366 episodes