Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains one of the most popular names in NASCAR despite stepping into retirement. Earnhardt Jr. became the face of the sport throughout much of his racing career. However, one fan had to wait nearly two decades to finally get his hands on an autograph from the Hall of Fame driver.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s immense NASCAR popularity
Throughout much of his NASCAR racing career, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stood alone as the most popular driver in the sport.
Earnhardt Jr. didn’t experience tremendous success, but he remained the most notable driver among fans. His name recognition goes well beyond the sports, as it remains a gateway for many into NASCAR.
The 15-time Most Popular Driver Award winner owes much of his popularity stemming from his father’s illustrious NASCAR racing career, but he has carved out his own lane. Earnhardt Jr. experienced his fair share of success with a pair of Xfinity Series championships, 26 Cup Series wins, and two Daytona 500 victories.
His popularity also guided a fan to experience a one-of-a-kind journey to secure his autograph.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took 18 Years to give a NASCAR fan an autograph
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s tremendous popularity over the years has created an intense fandom around him.
Earnhardt Jr. has handed out signatures to fans in many different forms. However, there hasn’t been an instance like what longtime NASCAR fan Clay Teague encountered with the two-time Daytona 500 winner.
In 2002, Teague sent a letter to Earnhardt Jr., hoping to secure a signature from him. The Missouri native’s request went unanswered for 18 years until he received a letter in the mail that included a Dale Jr. NASCAR card with his signature on it.
“Way back in 2002, I sent this card to his garage with an envelope so he could mail it back. Apparently, 18 years later, Dale had a chance to sign it and put an extra 18 cents postage because the stamp went up a lot in those 18 years,” Teague said to Fox 19 Now.
Enough time had passed by to where Teague forgot that he mailed it to Earnhardt Jr.’s address. All that made the letter’s arrival in his mailbox a pleasant surprise.
Throughout the entire situation, Teague voiced his appreciation for the item and the fact that he remained at the same home many years later to receive the prized possession.
Fan admiration only growing stronger in retirement
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s popularity hasn’t waned in retirement as he’s remained heavily involved in NASCAR.
After stepping away from driving in 2017, Earnhardt Jr. took up broadcast booth duties for NBC Sports covering the sport. He has also continued to run a weekly podcast called the Dale Jr. Download, where he routinely interviews guests with ties to NASCAR.
All that has maintained his strong pulse around the sport while building a more substantial fan base through his new line of work. Although he’s retired, Earnhardt Jr. has continued the tradition of competing in at least one Xfinity Series race a year, which only further draws fan attraction to him and the sport.
What has also helped earn him stronger admiration is that he has become quite open about his personal life and past in various interviews and his podcast. His decision to publish a book detailing his struggles with concussions opened an entirely different side of himself to fans.
Meanwhile, other unique things, such as his upcoming plans to be the pace car at Darlington in May in his father’s 1984 nova black No. 8 car, keep his name prominently around the sport. All that has and will continue to keep him a fan favorite in NASCAR.