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Earnhardt Jr. takes critic Miller for a spin UPDATE A reminder that Robin Miller's unforgettable ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be shown on Wind Tunnel tonight. So did Robin walk away with a new appreciation for NASCAR, or did he just walk away with a dirty pair of Wranglers? Tune in to find out.

10/31/08 Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dave Despain teamed up Wednesday to give SPEED analyst Robin Miller an unforgettable 59th birthday present and a different perspective on NASCAR.

Sunday’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain (9 p.m. ET on SPEED) will feature Earnhardt driving the veteran motor sports journalist around Lowe’s Motor Speedway in excess of 180 miles per hour.

The hot laps are part of a birthday present Despain gave Miller last Sunday on Wind Tunnel consisting of Earnhardt memorabilia and a message from the driver, inviting Miller to meet him at the track Wednesday for a ride.  The motivation behind the gift was to provide Miller, a regular guest on Wind Tunnel and open critic of NASCAR for years, a fresh take on the sport in hopes his appreciation for it would increase. 

“He definitely gave me the A-ticket ride so I could experience what it was all about at speed,” Miller said.  “I was surprised at the G-loads and how well a 3,500-pound car stuck to the track and can only imagine what an Indy car must be like going 30 miles per hour quicker through the corner. But Dale drove it in hard and I got the picture.”

Did Miller gain a new appreciation for the heavy stock cars and their drivers?

“Absolutely,” Miller admitted.  “I knew from watching on the outside of Turn 1 at Indy that the fast guys had to hustle and run a little loose and I had a new appreciation and respect after our run. I told Dale it's too bad all the mechanics couldn't experience what I did so when he told them the car was a handful, they'd understand.”

After an evening at the track, even an old critic like Miller can understand the draw of “Junior Nation.”

“I'd never met Junior but I always liked what I saw of him on television because he seems to take all that fame in stride and maintain his sense of humor. He was a lot of fun to interview and very forthright, as he always is. It was a very enjoyable evening for an old man.”

The “Excellent Dale Jr. Adventure” will air on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on SPEED.

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