Dale Earnhardt Jr. Looking Forward To Driving 50th Anniversary Car At His Favorite Track
Some of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s earliest memories of racing are of him hanging out in the infield at Bristol Motor Speedway, watching his dad, Dale Earnhardt, dominate on the high-banked oval.
“It’s definitely one of my best memories of being there,” said Earnhardt Jr., who will go after a second Sprint Cup win at the iconic half-mile oval in the IRWIN Tools Night Race Aug. 27. “The first time I remember coming there was 1984 (as a nine-year-old), the year Terry Labonte won the championship.
“I was also there in 1985 for both races my dad won, including the race where the old man drove without any power steering. There is no other track like it.”
Earnhardt Jr. watched his father win nine times at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, a track he says is like no other.
“This is my favorite race track,” he said. “It blows me away at the rate they’ve built race tracks the past 10 years that nobody has tried to duplicate Bristol with the success they’ve had.”
When Earnhardt Jr. makes his 24th Sprint Cup start at BMS, he will be sporting a different look, piloting a unique gold and white Amp Energy paint scheme celebrating the Speedway’s 50th anniversary. For a driver for whom the track holds such vivid memories, it will be a special moment.
“We’re real happy to be involved,” he said. “I’m honored to be a part of the program. We put a little bit of gold on our car for this race to honor (BMS) and what they mean to this sport. It’s rare that you see this kind of thing happen in this sport, where a track is honored in this fashion.
“I feel lucky to be ‘that guy’. I feel lucky to be the driver that gets to do this, because Bristol means a lot to me and I’m glad that I’ll be the one honoring them that evening. Bristol’s just something else. Nothing’s like it, it’s one of a kind and we’re excited about it. I think the fans will enjoy it. And hopefully we run well and hopefully we’ll win the race.”
Earnhardt Jr., who was the first driver to sweep both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races in the same weekend at BMS when he won the Food City 250 and the Sharpie 500 in August of 2004, always feels optimistic about his chances on the .533-mile oval.
““I feel like when I go to Bristol, I can win anytime I show up there,” he said. “I really like the race track and I really enjoy racing there. It suits my style of racing.
“I feel like I excel on short tracks, and if you look back at the recent years, we’ve been one of the best teams on the short tracks. I feel like short-track racing is what I was born to do. When I go to Bristol, I feel real confident.”
And, as it was for him as a kid, Earnhardt feels the Bristol experience is a can’t miss experience for any true race fan.
“I would tell them that Bristol is… if you’re going to try to get introduced to NASCAR, that that’s the first place I would take you to,” he said. “I’d take you to Bristol and give you a heavy dose of what racing’s about and then it would open your eyes to the rest of the sport. That’s definitely probably the one thing that can certainly grab anyone’s attention is a race at Bristol.”
For Earnhardt Jr., there’s no doubt about what makes competing at Bristol so special.
“Just the overall speed of the cars going around the track that fast and that small, and the fact that once the green flag drops, there’s pretty much cars all around the race track and there’s always racing and racing for position on some area on the race track,” he explained “There’s never one lap that lacks action, and it’s hard to know which end of the race track to be watching.”
The IRWIN Tools Night Race gets under way Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m., with qualifying slated for Aug. 26 at 5:10 p.m. The Food City 250 takes the green flag after Sprint Cup qualifying at 7:30 p.m. Action begins Aug. 24 with the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 at 6 p.m., followed by the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available for all four night races at Bristol Motor Speedway. Fans can enjoy both the IRWIN Tools Night Race and the Food City 250 for as little as $99. Should they be in town for the Wednesday night doubleheader, fans can take in all four races under the lights in packages starting at $129.
Single-event tickets for the IRWIN Tools Night Race start at $90 while ticket prices for the Food City 250 begin at $45. Wednesday night doubleheader tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 and the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 are $25 in advance of the race and $30 Aug. 24.
Parents also can take advantage of reduced ticket prices for children as kids 12 and under can watch the Food City 250 for only $10 while children in that age bracket will be admitted free to the Wednesday night doubleheader.
To purchase tickets, fans may contact the BMS ticket office at 1-866-415-4158 or 423-BRISTOL.