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Fantasy football leads to friendship for Earnhardt, Ives

By Jessica Ruffin

CONCORD, N.C.— The relationship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his 2015 crew chief Greg Ives did not begin at a Sprint Cup track nor did it blossom on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. Rather, it arose in the form of trash-talking on a fantasy football message board.

“I remember that their relationship began in our fantasy football league with Dale and Greg actually having one of the best smack-talk competitions we ever had in our league,” Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt said. “That’s how I knew that they had a good rapport. It started back then.”

Let’s hear Earnhardt’s take on his and Ives’ first encounter:

“Basically, I was invited into the Hendrick honchos league. It was a mixed bag of top managerial positions like Doug, engineers, crew chiefs, maybe a driver or two – I was actually the only driver.

“With fantasy football, I’ve got a bit of a potty mouth and do a little smack talking and I thought I was just going to grab the reins and run the league with my jaw. And Greg was winning every game – I had won some games, but Greg was undefeated – and I was going up against him in our first battle, I think it was like Week 4 or 5.

“And I predicted – I guaranteed – a win.

“And he ended up destroying me.

“Not only on the gridiron – the fantasy, make-believe gridiron – but on the message board as well. So I found out I wasn’t the best smack talker in the league; Greg was. So we became buddies after that and joked around.

“That seemed like such a long time ago, but it’s pretty funny now that we’re going to be working together. We started off on a really odd foot, let’s just say that.”

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