Junior's 2004 sweep remains one of the most magical moments of The Last Great Colosseum
Oh, if only those walls surrounding the half-mile all-concrete high banks at Bristol Motor Speedway could talk. What a story they could tell.
There have been many dramatic finishes, intense skirmishes, dominating performances and epic victory celebrations in more than six decades of racing at the Last Great Colosseum.
Perhaps none was more emotion-filled than the victory celebration that happened on August 28, 2004.
That was the night that Dale Earnhardt Jr., the son of the legendary Intimidator who was a nine-time BMS winner, finally broke through to grab his first Cup Series checkered flag at the World's Fastest Half-Mile.
The moment proved extra special because one night earlier Earnhardt Jr. had won the XFINITY Series event, the Food City 250. No driver in Bristol's history, dating back to 1961, had ever won both races in a single weekend.
Today, that legendary feat is known around these parts simply as The Sweep.
The moment was stamped in time by a jubilant Earnhardt, who climbed out of his red No. 8 Chevy in BMS Victory Lane, covered in sweat from the hot August night, and when NBC reporter Bill Weber asked the young driver why the win was so special, he let out a roar that sent sound waves blasting across the Tennessee hills all the way to Nashville and back.
"It's Bristol, baby!" Earnhardt exclaimed.
And NASCAR nation went wild.
"I never thought I would win a Busch race and a Cup race in the same weekend at Bristol," Earnhardt said. "Good lord."
"I'm just really, really, really, glad that I won tonight, because this is like the Daytona 500," Earnhardt continued. "This is like winning at Charlotte, or like winning in Atlanta. These are the tracks, the historic tracks that have been around for years that are at the top of my list (of places) I want to win."
Earnhardt Jr. hasn't won at Bristol since that incredible evening.
After announcing his retirement from full-time competition in April, Earnhardt Jr. is determined to duplicate his 2004 BMS performance one final time when he runs a doubleheader during the Food City 300 XFINITY Series race on Friday night, Aug. 18 and the 500-lap Monster Energy Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Aug. 19.
He will be driving his purple and blue Goody's Mixed Fruit Blast No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevy in the Food City 300 and a special-edition black and camouflage No. 88 Axalta Chevy in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
"My last run at Bristol…I have a lot of fond memories there," Earnhardt Jr. said recently. "I'm glad I've got a trophy from that race track and that will be one of the tracks that I miss running at more than some others for sure."
Earnhardt Jr. will be joined on the track by many more of NASCAR's elite drivers, including defending Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race winner Kevin Harvick, seven-time Monster Energy Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, young guns Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott, along with veteran drivers Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
In addition to the great racing, there are so many cool options to make a complete weekend of family fun, including great video entertainment provided by Colossus, the world's largest center-hung video screen, lots of party zones like the Bristol Lawn Party, premium VIP experiences like the Chairman's Experience, tailgating, on-site camping, concerts, great food and beverages in the concession stands throughout the property, and so much more.
And for families who want to bring the entire clan, Bristol Motor Speedway officials are making it easier than ever for kids to have an awesome experience. Kids' tickets (12 and under) are free and adult tickets are $30 for the Wednesday, Aug. 16 UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race and the Bush's Beans 150 Whelen Modified Series race. Friday night's (Aug. 18) Pinty's Qualifying and Food City 300 XFINITY Series event features adult tickets starting at $35 and free kids tickets. On Saturday night (Aug. 19), kids' tickets are only $10 for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, while adult tickets start at $69. For all races, each child must have a physical ticket in hand to enter the gates. The Bristol Motor Speedway ticket office and www.BristolTix.com are the only two authorized locations that can produce the free kids' tickets.
To purchase tickets to the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, please call 423-BRISTOL or buy them online at www.BRISTOLTIX.com. Tickets can also be purchased directly from any neighborhood Food City store.