The name Dale Earnhardt is synonymous with stock car racing. Dale Sr. won 76 NASCAR Cup Series races and seven championships before he tragically died in 2001. Junior won 26 races in his career, including a pair of Daytona 500s. He’s still very involved in NASCAR as a team owner in the Xfinity Series and a race commentator for NBC’s coverage.
Dale Jr. has also been engaged with iRacing and was named executive director of the organization in November 2020. The 46-year old Earnhardt recently announced he’s decided to try his hand in yet another type of racing this summer at the IndyCar race in Nashville.
Dale Earnhardt always been associated with NASCAR
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was destined for NASCAR. That’s what happens when your father is the face of the sport and you have the same name. Interestingly, Junior got a late start when he began racing at age 17. In 1996, at age 21, Earnhardt made his NASCAR debut with the Xfinity Series, running a very limited schedule for two seasons.
In 1998, Earnhardt earned a full-time ride driving for his father’s team in the Xfinity Series. He was impressive to say the least that season, earning seven wins and winning the championship. He replicated his efforts the following year, winning six times and another Xfinity Series title.
After racing with the Cup Series a handful of times in 1999, Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced full-time in 2000 and won in his seventh start at Texas. He won a second race at Richmond that year and finished 16th in the season standings.
For the next 17 years, Earnhardt racked up 24 more wins, including victories at the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. He never won a Cup Series championship but was regularly voted (15 times) the most popular driver in NASCAR until he retired after the 2017 season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins ownership group of Music City Grand Prix
While Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his fame and fortune in NASCAR, he recently announced he would be switching over to open-wheel racing this summer, at least for one race.
Earnhardt has joined pop superstar Justin Timberlake and Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks as part of the Music City Grand Prix ownership group, which will hold the NTT IndyCar Series race in the streets of downtown Nashville on Aug. 8.
“I’ve been excited about the Music City Grand Prix since I first heard about it,” Earnhardt said in a release.” It will be an incredible event combining great music and racing in one of my all-time favorite cities. I’m excited to be part of the ownership group for this event and look forward to not only this year’s inaugural event, but to great racing in Nashville for years to come.”
Scouting mission for NASCAR
In a recent episode of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast the Dale Jr. Download, he explained in greater detail why he wanted to become a part of the ownership group for the IndyCar race in Nashville this summer. Not surprisingly, all roads lead back to NASCAR.
“I’ve been hoping that one day NASCAR can get to the Fairgrounds. We don’t know whether we’ll ever get to the Fairgrounds but a lot of people would like to see that, me included,” Earnhardt admitted. “It was kind of a rising tide lifts all boats kind of thing. To kind of have an ear to the ground on how things are going to go for the IndyCar Series racing in town. How all that works with the governing officials and so forth and how everybody comes together to agree. It’s a teaching moment for me to help me maybe further understand the hurdles and obstacles that are in front of NASCAR to get to the Fairgrounds.”
Earnhardt said he envisions one day racing a final race of the NASCAR season at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, which is located near downtown and is the oldest continually operating track in the U.S., because it would be a great fit with the NASCAR season-ending awards festivities that also take place there at the close of the season.
“I’ve always said wherever we celebrate the champion; where we celebrate that defining moment where we acknowledge all the things that happened in our sport throughout the year, plus giving away that trophy to the driver that’s won it, I think we should race in that town. We should showcase our product in that same town that we do that celebrating in.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on a never-ending mission to fine-tune and improve the overall NASCAR product. If that means doing a little reconnaissance work with IndyCar, he’s more than willing to do it.