PAL: DALE EARNHARDT JR. IN A DEATH SPIRAL

Published on: November 9, 2009
PAL: DALE EARNHARDT JR. IN A DEATH SPIRAL

The life of NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. has turned into a train wreck, and pals fear he's headed for an emotional breakdown.

The 35-year-old driver is feuding with the owner of his racing team, he's burned through a string of girlfriends, and he's still haunted by the tragic death of his legendary father, sources say.

Now the troubled bachelor may be turning to booze to cope, insiders say.

"Dale Jr. seems almost in a death spiral," disclosed a close pal. "He's locked himself away from his closest friends, and he's upset all the time.

"Those closest to him are concerned about his mental health and well-being. No one wants to see him do something stupid. We've suggested that he get help, take some time off and regroup, but he won't listen."

Another source divulged: "Dale tries to downplay his reputation as a hard drinker, but he's lived his life like a frat boy at a kegger. But now he's drinking not for the fun of it, but to heal deep wounds that are eating away at him. We're all worried about him."

A major source of pain for Earnhardt is his stunning drop from the top of the NASCAR heap. He jumped ship from his father's NASCAR team in 2007 after fighting with his father's widow Teresa over control of the team.

He joined the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports team, which a source described as "like signing on as a free agent with the New York Yankees."

But he has just one win since joining the team, and team owner Rick Hendrick reportedly isn't happy with his performance.

"On race days lately, when Dale should have been up and ready to win, he instead seemed listless, morose and disturbingly unfocused," a close source told The ENQUIRER.

"One NASCAR writer was shocked to hear that Dale was found alone, weeping, after a poor finish in a race. Another time, he punched a wall of a trailer and screamed profanities.

"Dale has never recovered from the loss of his father, and sometimes it seems like he has no interest in continuing his racing career."

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