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NASCAR

Earnhardt Reminisces On JV Basketball Career At TMS

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Ragu Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Ragu Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – With his favorite team eliminated long ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will root for Florida in the Final Four.

NASCAR’s most popular driver loves basketball, but not because he excelled on the court. Although he tweeted a photo of himself Thursday with the junior varsity team from Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military School, Earnhardt said he was the weak link on the squad.

“I sat on the bench a lot being the smallest guy,” Earnhardt said Friday before practice at Texas Motor Speedway. “I didn’t have any skill. I only played because you got to leave campus for road games.

“Being able to leave even for a day in military school was an amazing vacation to be able to leave for a few hours. You’d go after the game and get the pizza or whatever. You didn’t have those kind of luxuries being on campus. I had fun.”

Earnhardt said he scored a whopping two points in his playing career.

“Some guy was jumping at me and I just closed my eyes and threw it up,” said Earnhardt, who only knew the basket was good because older sister Kelley and his 10 or so family members in attendance began screaming.

“It was rough back then, but a lot of good memories and a lot of fun practicing and being on a team,” he said. “I hadn’t played much organized sports at that point in my life so that was pretty fun. Plus, like I said, being able to get out of military school for a day was great, being able to see the outside world.”

Earnhardt said he had plans to attend the Final Four games Saturday in nearby Arlington, but instead will watch on TV. The Gators face Connecticut in one of the semifinals.

Earnhardt said he has continued playing basketball since his high school days.

“We have a small little group of guys that get together and play,” he said. “I’m not skillful at all, but it’s fun. It’s a good way to get some energy and exercise.”

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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