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Mark Armijo
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 5, 2004 12:00 AM

An ESPN movie about Dale Earnhardt, who died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, is scheduled for airing early next month. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is eagerly awaiting its release.

"From day one, I've been pretty excited about it," said Earnhardt Jr., last year's Checker Auto Parts 500 champion at Phoenix International Raceway. "I really, really hope they did a good job. You know, the stuff that they've done in the past on that network has been pretty good. I've been pretty surprised actually by the quality of the films that they've had.

"I think there obviously will be a little bit of a Hollywood twist to a few things. I'm sure you can't expect somebody to tell the most accurate story unless you're going to write a book. You know, every film has a twist, a Hollywood flair to it. I'm sure this one will, too." advertisement

The movie, titled 3, stars Barry Pepper, who also played New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 61*.

"I know that (stepmom) Theresa (Earnhardt) and our whole organization would have rather done something and been more involved in something down the road," Junior said. "But if that's not the case, then that's not the case. I thought Barry was really genuine (when) I spoke to him at Richmond earlier this year and really cared about the situation and the project itself.

"He came across to me that he went in and did the best job he could, and I really admire that. So I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be good, and I think the Earnhardt fans will probably like it."