Dale Earnhardt Jr. Unhappy With Forward Number Placement for Throwback Weekend and Says Fans Shouldn’t Blame NASCAR but Another Group

Darlington Throwback Weekend has grown in popularity since it was introduced in 2015. Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed it as a driver. Now he enjoys it as a fan. 

However, this year, he’s less enthusiastic because the new Next Gen car and its forward number placement takes away from the authenticity of the throwback paint schemes. He discussed the situation in detail this week on his podcast and interestingly made a point to let fans know NASCAR didn’t make the decision. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke out when moving numbers first became topic of discussion

Back in 2020 when transitioning to a single lug nut and moving the car numbers initially became topics of discussion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an opinion on both and shared it on his podcast. 

“I don’t feel like fussing over it and tweeting about it,” Earnhardt said, referring to the lug nuts. “You know what I do want to argue over and tweet about and fight for is where the number is located on the car.

“Sponsorships change. They change weekly. Some teams have so many sponsors they’re running a different-looking car every week. The one thing that remains the same. The one thing that keeps the identity of that vehicle is the number. That is the one link, solid consistent link to that driver week in and week out. Where the number is matters to me.”

Earnhardt said NASCAR not to blame for numbers staying forward on Darlington Throwback Weekend

Next week NASCAR makes its way to Darlington. For the past few weeks, drivers have unveiled their throwback paint schemes on social media. Like all fans, Earnhardt has enjoyed the reveals and is looking forward to the weekend, including all the legends who show up for the race. He is, however, not looking forward to the schemes on the Next Gen cars with the number in its new forward position and admitted as much on the Dale Jr. Download.

“For the Throwback Weekend, I wonder whether it’s a rule that the number has to remain forward on the cars like it is this year with the Next Gen for the Throwback Weekend,” he said. “So when you run a throwback scheme, you can’t do the number on the center of the door like the original scheme?”

When told NASCAR confirmed that moving the numbers isn’t an option, Earnhardt didn’t sugarcoat what he thought and knew where to point the finger. Interestingly, it wasn’t NASCAR.

“I don’t want Race Team Alliance (RTA) barking up my pant-leg,” he said. “I think that they have an influence on this. What I mean by that is don’t go, ‘Oh NASCAR, what a bunch of idiots.’ I believe that NASCAR was offering the idea to the teams, ‘Hey put the number anywhere you want, just keep it between the tires. You can have it slid back. You can have it slid forward. Whatever works for you.’ And I think the RTA said, ‘No. We all want the continuity. We want the numbers to be in one specific spot.'”

Makes one final plea 

Earnhardt said for him, Throwback Weekend at Darlington reminds him of other sports like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wearing their vibrant bright orange-schemed jerseys or the Houston Astros and their rainbow-schemed uniforms. Those are exact replicas of the originals from yesteryear. He said with the Cup cars maintaining the forward number placement like every other race, it diminishes the authenticity of the weekend.   

“For the Throwback Weekend, everything we do is and always has been about fan engagement, getting people to come to a race, getting people to enjoy what they’re doing,” Earnhardt said. “Fans beg for Throwback nostalgia. You have the throwback. You have a little nostalgia but zero authenticity here. 

“You’re going to have all kinds of fans that show up to race track wearing their old gear, their hats. Everything about the weekend is going to be on point except for the freaking race cars. They’re going to be nothing even close. They’re not even going to resemble anything that we’ve ever seen in the history of the sport. I’m just telling you, man. Loosen up the guidelines. Chill out. Let people do what they want to do for one damn weekend. Drop the rules and guidelines on the strict paint scheme criteria and see what happens.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been outspoken on past issues like the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction policy and things magically changed. Will this be another where his voice produces change? We’ll find out next week.

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