Dale Earnhardt Jr. Returns to NASCAR Xfinity Race at Bristol

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. to run NASCAR Xfinity race at Bristol again

Since stepping back from full-time NASCAR Cup series competition following the conclusion of the 2017 season, Earnhardt Jr. has consistently maintained his presence on the track by participating in select Xfinity races each year.

His choice of venues typically gravitates towards short tracks, including renowned circuits like Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway. However, he’s also been known to tackle challenges at Darlington Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last season, he took on two races, one notably at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Behind the wheel of the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, Earnhardt Jr. showcased his prowess by leading an impressive 47 laps, firmly in contention for victory as the race approached its climax.

However, his aspirations were abruptly thwarted when, while running among the top-five contenders, he was forced to pull off track due to smoke engulfing the cockpit. Regrettably, this premature exit saw him finish in 30th place. The cause? A sudden ignition stemming from the shifter tunnel column, which ignited the bottom of his uniform.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Credits: Motorsport)

Reflecting on the incident, Earnhardt Jr. recounted, “We had a positive wire short up in the top of the dash, and the casing on the wire melted down onto the leg brace and caught the foam in the leg brace and the cloth cover of the leg brace on fire, so it burnt the leg off my uniform. It was like another lap, and I was probably gonna be blistered up. But, no burns on my leg. Just barely escaped. I was disappointed to have to get out. We were gonna run fourth or better.”

Nevertheless, Earnhardt Jr. remains undeterred, eagerly anticipating his return to the No. 88 machine at Bristol on September 20th, backed by primary sponsorship from Hellmann’s. In a testament to their ongoing partnership, Hellmann’s recently inked a multi-year contract extension with JRM.

The Bristol race holds particular significance as it marks the culmination of the regular season for NXS drivers and teams. Despite being 49 years old, Earnhardt Jr. is resolute in his commitment to continue participating in these one-off races.

“I’ll run as long as I can,” he affirmed following last year’s Bristol race. “I like running one here and there. I think I still feel young. I overachieved tonight in my eyes in terms of how I ran, so I guess that gave me some confidence to try do one here and there for a couple more years.”

Earnhardt boasts victories at the iconic half-mile short track in both the Cup and Xfinity Series throughout his illustrious career. As he prepares for his 147th Xfinity Series start at Bristol, he remains steadfast in his pursuit of a 25th career win.

With two championship titles in the secondary NASCAR division under his belt, earned in 1998 and 1999, Earnhardt Jr. continues to leave an indelible mark on the sport.

Dana Phio

By Dana Phio

From the sound of engines to the spin of wheels, I love the excitement of driving. I really enjoy cars and bikes, and I'm here to share that passion. Daxstreet helps me keep going, connecting me with people who feel the same way. It's like finding friends for life.

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