Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Born October 10, 1974 (1974-10-10) (age 37)
Kannapolis, North Carolina, U.S.
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg)
Achievements 1998 and 1999 Busch Series Champion
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race XVI winner
2003, 2008 Budweiser Shootout winner
2004 Daytona 500 Winner
Awards 20032010 NASCAR Most Popular Driver
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
Car no., team 88 – Hendrick Motorsports
2010 position 21st
Best finish 3rd – 2003
First race 1999 Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte)
First win 2000 DirecTV 500 (Texas)
Last win 2008 Lifelock 400 (Michigan)
Wins Top tens Poles
18 160 10
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
Car no., team 5/7 – JR Motorsports
2010 position 73rd
Best finish 1st – 1998, 1999
First race 1996 Carolina Pride/Red Dog 250 (Myrtle Beach)
First win 1998 Coca Cola 300 (Texas)
Last win 2010 Subway Jalapeño 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (Daytona)
Wins Top tens Poles
23 77 10
Statistics current as of February 19, 2011.
  • NOTE: References to "Earnhardt", "he", and "him" refer to the subject of this article, unless otherwise specified. References to his father will include "Sr."

Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (born October 10, 1974), better known simply as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is a professional American race car driver and team owner who drives the #88 AMP Energy/United States National Guard Chevrolet Impala in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports, and drives the Unilever Chevrolet Impala for his own team, JR Motorsports, in the Nationwide Series . He is the son of the late NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and the grandson of both the late NASCAR driver Ralph Earnhardt and Robert Gee, the well known stock car fabricator. Earnhardt, Jr. is also the half-brother of former driver Kerry Earnhardt, the uncle of driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, and the stepson of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team co-owner Teresa Earnhardt. Earnhardt, Jr. has won the Most Popular Driver Award eight times. He has an estimated net worth of $300 million.



Early life and career

Raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Dale Jr. is the son of Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Brenda Lorraine (née Gee; born January 2, 1952).[1] His maternal grandfather, Robert Gee, Sr., was a NASCAR car builder. Dale Earnhardt Jr. attended college and earned a 2 year automotive degree in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Dale Jr. began his racing career at the late age of 17, competing in the Street Stock division at Concord, North Carolina's Motorsport Park. His first race car was a 1979 Monte Carlo that he co-owned with his older half-brother, Kerry Earnhardt. Within two seasons, Dale Jr. had honed his driving abilities to the point of joining the Late Model Stock Car division. There he developed an in-depth knowledge of chassis setup and car preparation, while racing against his older brother Kerry and his sister Kelley. He worked at his father's dealership as a mechanic while he went to Mitchell Community College to earn as associates degree in automotive technology. Dale's crew chief for the 2011 season is Steve Latarte

Dale Jr. ran nine Busch Series races between 1996 and 1997 for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Ed Whitaker, respectively, before driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the Busch Series full time in 1998, in which he started the season in an amazing blowover after contact with Dick Trickle and Buckshot Jones at Daytona. Earnhardt, Jr. won consecutive NASCAR Busch Series Championships in 1998 and 1999 barely edging Matt Kenseth. In 1998 he made his first start in the Winston Cup, at the exhibition race held in Motegi, Japan. Also in 1999 he drove in 5 Winston Cup races in the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc., then in 2000 he went full time in the Winston Cup series.[2]


Earnhardt, Jr. (far right) racing at the 2000 Coca-Cola 600.

Earnhardt, Jr. competed for the Raybestos NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award in 2000. His primary competitor for the award was Matt Kenseth. Kenseth outran Junior in the season-opening Daytona 500. Earnhardt, Jr. scored wins at the Texas Motor Speedway, breaking the record held by his father, Earnhardt, Sr., for fewest starts by a driver to earn his first victory in NASCAR's "Modern Era" by winning in just his 12th start, and also at Richmond International Raceway. He became the first rookie to win the All-Star exhibition race.

Earnhardt Jr. played a part in recreating one Winston Cup milestone in 2000 when he competed with his father and half-brother Kerry in the Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway. That occasion was only the second time that a father had raced against two sons. Lee, Richard and Maurice Petty had previously accomplished the feat.[3]


In 2001, the major event of the season occurred on February 18, in the final corner of the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. As Earnhardt Jr. finished second, to his teammate Michael Waltrip, his father had crashed in turn four. Dale Earnhardt Sr. did not survive the wreck. He was pronounced dead at 5:16 p.m. that Sunday. Dale Jr. raced at Rockingham the following weekend, but finished in 43rd-place after a wreck that looked eerily similar to his father's wreck just one week earlier. Dale Jr. scored victories at Dover (the first Cup race following the September 11th attacks as the original scheduled race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was postponed until the end of the season) and Talladega, as well as an emotional win in the return to Daytona in the Pepsi 400,[4] finishing eighth in points for the year.

The Talladega victory earned Dale Jr. a Winston No Bull 5 $1 million bonus. This season of emotion produced nine top-fives and 15 top-10 finishes, as well as two Bud Poles.[citation needed]


Dale Jr. at the Pepsi 400 in 2002.

In 2002, Junior had a roller-coaster season. He struggled after enduring a concussion at Fontana in April — an injury he did not admit to until mid-September. In the three races following Fontana, Dale Jr. finished no better than 30th. Dale Jr. rallied to score two more wins at Talladega, a pair of Bud Pole Awards and an 11th-place finish in the standings.

In 2003, he became a true title contender, scoring a record-breaking 4th consecutive win at Talladega. He later scored a victory at Phoenix in October, recording a career best 3rd place effort in the standings. He also took home the NMPA Most Popular Driver award for the first time in his career.[2]


Jr. in the pits at the spring 2006 Bristol race.

In 2004, Dale Jr. won the Daytona 500,[5] six years to the day after his father won his only title in the "Great American Race (and 3 years after his father was killed in the 2001 race)."

On July 18, during an off-weekend from NASCAR, Dale Jr. crashed a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R during a practice for the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. The car slid off course and hit a concrete barrier during warm-up the day of the race, rupturing a fuel line and causing the car to burst into flames with him still inside. He suffered second and third degree burns on his neck, chin, and legs partially due to not wearing a protective balaclava with his helmet. The burns prevented him from finishing two races where he was replaced by Martin Truex Jr. and his DEI teammate John Andretti in the middle of the races. In the fall, Junior became the first driver to sweep a weekend at Bristol by winning both the Busch race and Cup race in the same weekend.[citation needed]

Earnhardt Jr. was able to qualify for the NASCAR ten-race playoff, and had his fifth NEXTEL Cup win of the season (a career high) at Talladega. However, he was penalized 25 points for use of an obscenity during the television broadcast, in violation of a NASCAR rule prohibiting participants from using obscene language. That incident, combined with two consecutive DNF's in the playoffs, eventually dropped him out of the running, and he finished fifth in the 2004 NEXTEL Cup chase despite a career-high 6 wins at Daytona, Atlanta, Richmond, Bristol, Talladega and Phoenix. He also picked up his 2nd consecutive Most Popular Driver Award.[citation needed]

At the close of the 2004 season it was revealed that Tony Eury, Sr. would be promoted to the team manager position for the DEI corporation, while Tony Eury, Jr. became the crew chief for the DEI #15 driven by Michael Waltrip for the 2005 season. Peter Rondeau, a Chance 2 employee who also helped Dale Jr. win the Busch Series race at Bristol in August, became the crew chief for Earnhardt, Jr. in 2005. Rondeau served as Earnhardt's crew chief until the Coca Cola 600 weekend when he was replaced with DEI chief engineer Steve Hmiel, who helped Earnhardt Jr. score his lone win of 2005 at Chicagoland in July. Dale Jr. was eliminated from any possible competition for the NEXTEL Cup championship after suffering an engine failure at the California Speedway. Dale Jr. was reunited with his cousin, Tony Eury, Jr., after the fall Richmond weekend, and results improved immediately. For the 3rd straight year, he took home the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. merchandise hauler.

Earnhardt Jr.'s proficiency as a car owner continued. His race team outside of DEI, JR Motorsports, in 2005 fielded a car in the USAR Hooters ProCup Series, winning once and qualifying for the Four Champions playoff. Mark McFarland moved to the Busch Series in 2006, driving the #88 JR Motorsports US Navy Chevrolet, with Richard Childress Racing providing assistance; however, he was fired before the fall Michigan race, the Carfax 250. He was replaced by Robby Gordon and Martin Truex, Jr. for the rest of the year. Long-time short track racer Shane Huffman drove Earnhardt Jr.'s USAR Hooters ProCup car in 2006. In 2006, during the spring weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt Jr. and other DEI drivers drove with special black paint schemes on their cars, reminiscent of his late father's famous #3 paint scheme. On Father's Day 2006, he drove a vintage Budweiser car at Michigan International Speedway to honor both his grandfather (Ralph Earnhardt) and father, who at one point in both their careers used the number 8 car. After rain caused the race to be ended early, Dale Jr. finished 3rd with Kasey Kahne winning the race. After 17 races in the 2006 season, Dale Jr. sat 3rd in the championship standings with one win, coming at Richmond in May 2006.[citation needed]

During the race at New Hampshire, he experienced the second engine failure of his 2006 season, ultimately leading to a 43rd place finish. Following New Hampshire was the race at Pocono, where Junior was running in the middle of the pack when he crashed in turn 2. These two events catapulted him to 11th in the points standing, out of the Chase for the Cup. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dale Jr. and his crew made a critical decision to stay out on the final pit stop to get a much needed top-ten finish to move him up to tenth in the points. He made the 2006 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup after finishing 17th in the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 9, 2006. His points position going into the Chase was 6th. He finished the season 5th in the point standings, 147 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.[citation needed]


Dale Earnhardt, Jr. turning into the garage at Texas Motor Speedway in 2007
Dale Jr.'s #8 Sharpie Busch car at the Sharpie display at the 2007 Ford Championship Weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Dale Jr. began the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season by finishing 32nd at the Daytona 500. His first top ten came at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Food City 500 when he finished 7th. His first Top 5 came at Martinsville Speedway in the Goody's Cool Orange 500. He led 136 laps and finished 5th. He collected his third top 10 of the season and his 8th at Talladega Superspeedway with his 7th place performance in the 2007 Aaron's 499. On May 14, he was docked 100 driver championship points, car owner Teresa Earnhardt was docked 100 owner points, and his crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., was fined $100,000 and suspended for 6 races due to the use of illegal mounting brackets used to attach the wing to his car. During the April race at Texas Motor Speedway he drove the last 10 laps in the #5 car of Kyle Busch owned by Rick Hendrick.

On May 27, 2007, Dale Jr. rode a camouflage #8 car in the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day to raise money for the families of military troops. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Ward Burton, Denny Hamlin, Casey Mears, Shane Huffman and Jon Wood also changed their paint schemes for the occasion.[6] He finished eighth, after leading with seven laps to go, but Casey Mears finished with the win.[7]

On August 5, 2007, Dale Jr. earned his first pole position in a race since 2002 at Pocono Raceway. Although Kurt Busch won the race, Earnhardt had a dramatic comeback to finish second after spinning out and experiencing shock troubles. Earnhardt led for eight laps before Busch took over.[8] On August 12 at Watkins Glen International, Dale Jr. was making the push into the Top 12 of the Nextel Cup standings from his #13 position. After being at the #2 position during the race, Dale Jr. had engine problems on lap 64 and had to end his race day. After the Glen, he tried furiously to reach the 12th spot in standings. However, a resurgence by Kurt Busch and a blown engine during the final race at Richmond ended his Chase hopes.That was Dale's last chance to participate for the Championship at Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). After the 2007 season, Dale Jr. won the NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver award for the 5th consecutive time.[9]

Move to Hendrick Motorsports

After much speculation, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced on May 10, 2007, that he would leave Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company founded by his father, to drive for another team in 2008. Earnhardt expressed that his decision was based entirely on his desires to achieve his career goal of a Sprint Cup Championship, and his apparent belief that he would not be able to attain that objective while driving for DEI. He said that unless he could gain majority ownership, and therefore control, of DEI, that he was not confident in the organization’s ability to field the elite level equipment that would yield the elusive title.[10]

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) standing between two different paint schemes for the #88 Chevy. He stands with Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, and Rick Hendrick, in Dallas where the announcement was made on September 19, 2007.

On June 13, 2007, he announced at a press conference that he had signed a five-year contract with Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Kyle Busch. At the time, Hendrick consisted of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Casey Mears. One month later, on July 13, it was announced that his long-time primary sponsor Budweiser would not be with Earnhardt Jr. when he made the move to Hendrick. Other contractual agreements in place at Hendrick Motorsports are said to have prevented a relationship with Bud.[11]

On August 15, 2007, it was announced that Dale Jr. would not be taking his familiar #8 with him to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. His late grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, used that number and Dale Jr. picked it when he entered the Cup Series in 1999. His father also used #8 early in his career. Dale Jr. blamed his stepmother for not allowing the #8 to move with him to Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt Jr. said negotiations broke down when Teresa Earnhardt asked for part of the licensing revenue, along with wanting the number back after he retired.[12] (The #8 team, after a successful season in 2008 with co-drivers Mark Martin and Aric Almirola, would end up being shut down in 2009 after DEI's merger with Ganassi Racing.)

Earnhardt Jr. moved to the #88 car with Tony Eury, Jr. coming to Hendrick to remain as his crew chief.[13] On September 19, the official announcement was made that Earnhardt Jr. would be driving the #88 Mountain Dew AMP/National Guard Chevy for the 2008 season.[14]

The #88, according to NASCAR archives, was driven by Ralph Earnhardt, his paternal grandfather, in 1957. His maternal grandfather, Robert Gee, was one of the first employees of All Star Racing, initially a Late Model Sportsman (now Nationwide Series) team with Gee as Hendrick's partner, which is now Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick said about Earnhardt and his uncles, "I can look at Robert Gee Jr., or Jimmy Gee, or Dale Jr., and all I see is Robert Gee. They're the spitting image of him. I go back and look and pictures from when we did things together, and I have to say, I owe Robert a lot."[15] Starting in the 2008 season, Hendrick Motorsports merged its Nationwide Series team to Dale's JR Motorsports, with the cars coming from Dale's shop, which employs his mother and uncles.


Earnhardt at Daytona
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. addresses the media at Hendrick Motorsports headquarters on January 23, 2008.

Earnhardt started the season by winning the 2008 Budweiser Shootout [16] a non-points paying exhibition. It was his first race for Hendrick. He led for a total of 47 of 70 laps, a Budweiser Shootout record. He followed that up five days later with a win in the Gatorade Duel. This was his third career win in the duels, however he was unable to follow it up with victory in the Daytona 500, finishing 9th. Ryan Newman was the winner of the event.

Earnhardt Jr. was docked 50 points because his rear spoiler did not meet the specified height in the Nationwide Series. His crew chief Chad Walter was fined $35,000, suspended for 6 races and was placed on probation until December 31, 2008. Team owner Rick Hendrick was also docked 50 owner points along with Jr.[17]

Dale Jr. started 15th for the Auto Club 500 because qualifying was rained out and the lineup was determined by owner points from last season. However on lap 21, teammate Casey Mears went up into the wall due to water on the track. When he came back down the track he took out Jr. When the cameras caught up with him in the garage, he was irritated about the fact that they were even out on the track in those conditions. It had been raining all weekend and water was "weeping" out of the cracks on the track causing slick spots in the corners. The race was later rain delayed until Monday and Dale Jr. finished the race 40th.[citation needed]

A string of four top-5 and top-10 finishes over the following weeks improved his position in the points standings from 23rd to fourth. Despite winning the pole for the Samsung 500 at Texas, Dale Jr. finished the race a lap down in 12th position. He made his 300th career Sprint Cup start at the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Despite running a strong race (including leading 12 times), his involvement in a late-race collision left him with a 10th place finish in the race. A string of three top-5 finishes in the next four races continued Earnhardt Jr.'s consistency, and maintained his 3rd place position in the points standings.[citation needed]

At Michigan, Dale Jr. broke his 76-race winless streak, managing to stretch his fuel mileage enough to allow him to win under a caution on the last lap of a green-white-checkered (overtime) finish. He did not find much success after the Michigan win. He then went back to Talladega Superspeedway for the AMP Energy 500 where he was en route to a possible win before being caught up in "The Big One" late in the race. He headed to Martinsville Speedway where he finished second to teammate Jimmie Johnson. He ended the season in the garage area at Homestead Miami Speedway in The Ford 400 after losing his brakes with just a few laps to go in the race. Earnhardt Jr in 2008 won his 6th consecutive NASCAR most popular driver award after he set a NASCAR record for merchandise sales.[citation needed]


In the season-opening Daytona 500, Dale Jr. began well, even leading for a lap. However multiple mishaps, including a missed pit stop and a 1-lap penalty for pitting outside of his pit box, sent him far into the back of the running order. Earnhardt, Jr. was then directly involved in a controversial crash on lap 124, when, while fighting to return to the lead lap, he came in contact with Brian Vickers, causing a ten car pileup which included Denny Hamlin, Scott Speed, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Robby Gordon, Jamie McMurray, and Carl Edwards. Vickers and Kyle Busch later criticized Earnhardt who denied purposely clipping Vickers. Dale Jr. criticized Vickers for blocking him on the inside. When the race concluded early due to the rain, Earnhardt ended with a 27th place finish. After a blown engine at California and falling to 35th in the owners points, he finished 10th at Las Vegas and reached 29th place in points. He finished 8th at Martinsville. He had a string of poor finishes including 20th at Texas, and 31st at Phoenix after being spun out by Casey Mears. He gained confidence in his team after he finished second at Talladega. However, two weeks later at Richmond, Dale Jr. finished 27th. He was again spun out late in the race at Darlington and ended the race in 27th place. He then finished 10th in the All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Dale Jr.'s poor performance continued as he finished in 40th place in the Coca-Cola 600, also at Lowe's.

On Thursday, May 28, 2009, Tony Eury, Jr. was let go as crew chief of the #88 team. Lance McGrew was named interim crew chief, and was scheduled to take over starting with the June 7, 2009 Pocono Race with team manager Brian Whitesell calling the shots at Dover the previous week.[18] McGrew was scheduled to work with Brad Keselowski at Dover, but after a failed qualifying attempt by Keselowski, was able to take on his duties for the #88 team a week early. Dale Jr. managed to finish 12th at Dover for the Autism Speaks 400 with his new crew chief after contending for the lead. At Pocono Raceway, however, he again ended with a 27th-place finish. After the change in crew chiefs, Earnhardt Jr. was consistently better, finishing fifteenth at Chicagoland Speedway; however, during that time he also had one DNF at Daytona International Speedway where he was taken out of the race early in a large pileup.

At the Carfax 400 at Michigan, Earnhardt charged to the front near the end of the race and managed to finish third; he also earned his second top five finish this season in the same race. One week later at Bristol, Earnhardt finished 9th in the Sharpie 500, but his bad luck continued at the Auto Club Speedway, when he was involved in a multi-car incident. After a 39th qualifying run at Lowe's Motor Speedway, he said "I'm about to the end of my rope".[19] At the fall Talladega race, Earnhardt Jr. had a solid run, including leading several laps, before finishing in 11th place. Lance McGrew had the "interim" taken off of his title, and he continued working with the #88 team through the end of the 2010 season.[20] Earnhardt Jr. ended 2009 winless, and finished a career low 25th in the standings.


On Saturday, February 6, 2010, Earnhardt Jr. qualified second overall for the 52nd 2010 Daytona 500 after losing the pole position to teammate Mark Martin. He started 1st in the Gatorade Duel #2 on Thursday, February 11, 2010. He finished 11th in the 2010 Budweiser Shootout after struggling with an ill-handling car for most of the race.

On February 13, 2010 while running in the front of the pack at the Daytona Nationwide Series race, Dale Jr. was caught up in a multi-car wreck, causing his car to flip upside down on the backstretch. He walked away from the wreck uninjured. His driver Danica Patrick was caught up in another wreck before Earnhardt flipped. With 2 laps to go in the Daytona 500 the following day, he went from 10th to 2nd in one lap but couldn't pass Jamie McMurray and finished in second place. He was unable to follow up on this strong performance the following week in California when a broken axle left him with a 32nd-place finish, 12 laps down. The next weekend in Las Vegas he qualified 4th for the Shelby American, however after falling a lap down late in the race he could only settle for a 16th place finish. Following another poor finish at Atlanta settling for a 15th place finish. The next weekend at Bristol, Dale Jr. started 18th. He slowly made his way up the pace to 5th. Then a speeding penalty on pit road sent him to the tail end of the longest line. He charged his way up the pack to settle for a 7th place finish. He later qualified 8th at Martinsville after qualifying was rained out. After facing some handling problems, he ended up with a 15th place finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified 5th for the Subway Fresh Fit 600. Early in the race, Dale Jr. had a splitter brace issue, that sent him to mid-pack. He later finished 12th. After qualifying 9th in the Samsung Mobile 500, Dale Jr. had a strong car for most of the race, and led 46 laps. However, the 88 slipped back from 3rd to finish 8th on the last restart, after facing a handling issue, and later moved up to 7th in the Sprint Cup points standings. Dale Jr. was determined to get a good finish at Talladega, and started 7th due to severe weather, but made his presence known by running up front in the early stages of the race, even leading 8 laps.[citation needed]

Due to multiple green/white/checker attempts, he slipped back on the final restart and finished 13th. Following this, he qualified 25th for the Heath Calhoun 400 at Richmond. During the race, he cut a tire after contact with Paul Menard and Bobby Labonte. Dale Jr. never recovered and finished 32nd three laps down, and fell to 13th in the Sprint Cup standings. Dale Jr. did not have high hopes at Darlington the next week, stating that it would one day cause him to quit racing in NASCAR. Dale Jr. qualified 19th, and although running as high as 5th, Dale Jr. faced an ill-handling condition, causing him to finish 18th, but move back up into the top 12 in points.[citation needed]

On Friday March 5, 2010, he won the pole for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and now holds the record for fastest recorded qualifying time of 28.76 in a Car of Tomorrow at 192.8 mph (310.3 km/h). Two days later, on March 7, he ended with a 15th place finish after tire issues and other mishaps. On July 2, 2010, Dale raced the #3 blue and yellow Wrangler Chevrolet (painted to pay tribute to his father and fans) and drove it to victory lane in the Nationwide Series Subway Jalepeño 250 at Daytona. The next day on July 3 in the Coke Zero 400 Dale Jr. finished in 4th place, improving his position in the point standings from 13th to 11th. Then at the night race at Chicagoland Speedway he finished 23rd with dropped him back in to 13th place in points, dropping him 15 points out of the top 12. He finished the 2010 Season on November 21, 2010, ranking 21st. On Tuesday, November 23, 2010, Hendrick Motorsports announced Dale Jr.'s new Crew Chief, Steve Latarte. On December 2, 2010 it was announced that Dale Jr. won the NMPA Most Popular Driver award for the 8th consecutive time.[citation needed]


Dale Jr. qualified for the 2011 Budweiser Shootout with new crew chief Steve Letarte. [21] He began the season, by drawing the pole position at the 2011 Budweiser Shootout, where he finished 19th in the race.[22] On February 13, he earned his first pole position at Daytona International Speedway, as well as his first at a track that uses restrictor plates. Due to a practice crash, he had to start at the back of the field for both the duel race and the 500. He finished 24th in the Daytona 500 after being wrecked with 4 laps to go.[23] Over the next seven races Earnhardt, Jr. would achieve 5 top ten finishes including a 2nd place finish at Martinsville after losing the lead to Kevin Harvick with 4 laps to go, and a 4th place finish at Talladega in a photo finish with Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon. Jr came within half a lap of snapping his then-104 race winless streak at the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when he ran out of fuel during a green-white-checkered finish, finishing 7th. The following week at Kansas, Jr finished 2nd to Brad Keselowski. He followed this up with a solid 6th place finish at Pocono. Over the course of the next three races, Jr would slide to 7th in the Championship points, finishing 21st at Michigan, 41st at Infineon, and 17th at Daytona. On September 1, 2011 Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he had signed a five-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the 88 until 2017. On September 19th, 2011, Junior Made his first Chase for the Sprint Cup appearance since 2008 at Chicagoland .[24]

Races won

Sprint Cup (18 wins)









Nationwide Series (23 wins)








Other NASCAR Events (7 wins)


  • NASCAR iRacing.com Drivers World Championship (Rd. #1 at Daytona) – February 9, 2010





Career cup statistics

Year Starts Wins Top Fives Top Tens Poles Earnings ($) Rank Avg Fn Team
1999 5 0 0 1 0 162,095 48th 21.4 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2000 34 2 3 5 2 2,583,475 16th 20.9 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2001 36 3 9 15 2 5,384,630 8th 15.2 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2002 36 2 11 16 2 4,570,980 11th 17.1 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2003 36 2 13 21 0 4,923,500 3rd 12.7 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2004 36 6 16 21 0 7,201,380 5th 21.1 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2005 36 1 7 13 0 5,761,830 19th 20.5 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2006 36 1 10 17 0 5,466,100 5th 13.5 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2007 36 0 7 12 1 5,221,970 16th 18.6 Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2008 36 1 10 16 1 4,611,290 12th 14.1 Hendrick Motorsports
2009 36 0 2 5 0 4,097,190 25th 23.2 Hendrick Motorsports
2010 36 0 3 8 1 4,572,928 21st 18.6 Hendrick Motorsports
2011 15 0 3 9 1 2,778,663 5th 13.9 Hendrick Motorsports
Career 412 18 94 159 10 65,471,600 16.8 DEI, HMS


Business interests

Earnhardt, Jr. owns Hammerhead Entertainment, a media production company that created and produces the TV show Back In the Day, which airs on SPEED. Hammerhead also produces "Shifting Gears", a new show on ESPN2.

He is partners with a group of investors who are building Alabama Motorsports Park, A Dale Earnhardt Jr Speedway.[27] The track is located near Mobile, Alabama and will feature stock car racing, KART racing and a road course. This will join with his partial ownership of Paducah International Raceway. Earnhardt has also opened a bar named Whisky River in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina in April 2008; he later opened a second Whisky River in Jacksonville, Florida [28]

Media appearances

A Dale Earnhardt Jr. autograph


He hosted Back In The Day a show that took a step back in time to races in the '60s and '70s with trivia and information. The show debuted on the Speed Channel on February 6, 2007. He has also appeared in an episode of the TV show Yes, Dear. He has also been on two episodes of Cribs. The first episode originally aired in 2001. The second episode featuring the Western town Dale Jr. built originally aired in 2009.


He hosts a show on Sirius XM Radio's Sirius XM Sports Nation called Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s Unrestricted.


He appeared in the 2006 film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. In the movie, he walked up in a crowd and asked Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) for his autograph, but told him "don't tell any of the other drivers." He also appears in a deleted scene where he calls Ricky a "dirty liar" and asks him for money he owed him. The #8 car, with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s voice over was featured in the Pixar movie "Cars." The #8 car also appeared in Herbie: Fully Loaded in the final race where Herbie overtook him. His #88 car also appeared in the 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon as one of the Wreckers, a trio of NASCAR stock cars that can transform into heavy artillery tanks.[29]

Voice work

  • He voiced himself in Disney/Pixar's movie Cars as a #8 car named "Junior" with the DEI logo on the hood. The Budweiser logos were censored from the #8 to prevent alcoholic advertising to gain a "G" (General) rating.
  • His voice was used for the character Chase Davis in an episode of the Disney Channel's Handy Manny. Chase helps Manny compete in the Wood Valley 500 auto race.

Music video appearances

He has made appearances in several music videos, including:


Dale Jr. appeared on the cover of EA Sports' NASCAR Thunder 2003. Dale Jr. is helping design Alabama Motorsports Park with his brother Kerry Earnhardt, and sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller. He also won the Helper Most Popular Driver Award for the eighth straight year in 2010. He appeared in the EA Sports video game, NASCAR Rumble in the #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc./Dale Jr. Chevrolet as a guest driver, while his father of course, appeared in his #3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet as a full-time driver. He was featured in the video Playboy: Celebrity Photographers (2003) where he photographed The Dahm Triplets.[31][32]

Earnhardt Jr is a passionate Washington Redskins fan and has been known to have Redskins scores relayed to him during races.[33][34] "During the race season, [if] I'm under caution, I'm getting stats and numbers told to me over the radio during the race," Earnhardt said. "I've got to know. I can't concentrate on what I'm doing if I don't know what the Redskins are doing. My fans tell me if I lose, it ruins their week. But if the Redskins lose, it ruins my week." Earnhardt once dreamed of playing football for the Redskins, but states that he "wasn't built" for it. "I was 5–3 when I got my driver's license at the age of 16," he said, "so I wasn't going to make much of a football player." [34]


  1. ^ "Ancestry of Dale Earnhardt Jr.". http://www.wargs.com/other/earnhardt.html. 
  2. ^ a b "Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Drive Bio on Nascar.com". Nascar.com. February 20, 2011. http://www.nascar.com/news/headline/cup/dale.earnhardt.bio/index.html. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ Kerry Earnhardt website
  4. ^ 2001 Pepsi 400 win
  5. ^ 2004 Daytona 500 win
  6. ^ Fox Sports on MSN – NASCAR – Dale Jr. camo car, other schemes honor troops
  7. ^ "Mears stretches fuel to win Coca-Cola 600, first Cup race"
  8. ^ ESPN – Kurt Busch makes statement with dominating win at Pocono – Nascar
  9. ^ Mike Irwin (November 29, 2007). "Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Wins Fifth Consecutive NASCAR NMPA Chex® Most Popular Driver Award". Motor Sports News. http://motorsportsnews.net/archives/901. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Dale Earnhardt Jr., the Gravest Loss in the History of NASCAR?"
  11. ^ "This Bud's for ... ? Dale Jr., longtime sponsor to split"
  12. ^ "Dale Jr.: Teresa Earnhardt made 'ridiculous' requests for No. 8"
  13. ^ "Eury to remain Earnhardt's crew chief; Mears to drive No. 5"
  14. ^ "Earnhardt 'amped' about car, future with Hendrick". nascar.com. September 19, 2007. http://www.nascar.com/2007/news/headlines/cup/09/19/dearnhardtjr.sponsors.number.jmenzer/index.html. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Earnhardt and Hendrick Come from the Same Place". NASCAR.COM. 2007-06-13. http://www.nascar.com/2007/news/opinion/06/13/dearnhardtjr.rhendrick.dcaraviello/1.html. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  16. ^ Bud Shootout win
  17. ^ "Post-Daytona penalties handed down" by Jaymes Song, Seattle Times, February 21, 2008
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ Ryan, Nate (October 30, 2009). "Hendrick keeping McGrew as Earnhardt's crew chief in 2010". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/motor/nascar/2009-10-30-earnhardt-crew-chief_N.htm. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  21. ^ 2010 Most Popular Driver award
  22. ^ http://www.nascar.com/news/110211/shootout-lineup/index.html
  23. ^ http://www.nascar.com/races/cup/2011/1/data/results_unofficial.html
  24. ^ Hendrick Motorsports
  25. ^ Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Stats from Nascar.com
  26. ^ "Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Career Statistics". racing-reference.info. http://racing-reference.info/driver/Dale_Earnhardt_Jr.. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  27. ^ About Alabama Motorsports Park
  28. ^ "Earnhardt Jr. branches out into bar business"
  29. ^ "Nelson: NASCAR Trio Are The Wreckers". Comicbookmovie. July 30, 2010. http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/UnForgottenHero/news/?a=20901. Retrieved July 30, 2010. 
  30. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyNwY08H49Y
  31. ^ Playboy:Celebrity Photographers(2003)
  32. ^ Contact Dale Earnhardt Jr
  33. ^ [3]
  34. ^ a b http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-112073688.html

External links

Preceded by
Randy LaJoie
NASCAR Busch Series Champion
Succeeded by
Jeff Green
Preceded by
Terry Labonte
The Winston XVI winner
Succeeded by
Jeff Gordon
Preceded by
Jeff Gordon
NASCAR EA cover athlete
Succeeded by
Tony Stewart
Preceded by
Tony Stewart
Budweiser Shootout winner
Succeeded by
Dale Jarrett
Preceded by
Michael Waltrip
Daytona 500 winner
Succeeded by
Jeff Gordon
Preceded by
Tony Stewart
Budweiser Shootout winner
Succeeded by
Kevin Harvick
Preceded by
Bill Elliott
NASCAR Most Popular Driver
Succeeded by

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