Up next on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell tour around NASCAR’s tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway, his absolute favorite track on the schedule.
NASCAR’s retiring 14-time most popular driver has only won at the half-mile oval – also known as the Last Great Colosseum – twice in 20 years, but both trips to Victory Lane were during the same weekend. He first won the Food City 250 in what was then known as the Busch Series before taking the checkered flag the next day in the Cup Series’ Sharpie 500.
As Earnhardt wraps up the second half of his final season before retiring from full-time racing, he desperately needs to repeat some of the magic from his 2004 weekend sweep to get a win Saturday night at the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race and secure a spot in the 16-driver playoffs.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) August 16, 2017
Part of his JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour, the No. 88 driver recalled that career weekend and why the Tennessee track is so special.
“Both cars were really quick. The Cup car (was) especially fast. We lapped all the way up to sixth place (after starting 30th) in that race. We had a green-flag pit stop. Ran over 200-some laps under green – almost half the race. Stretched our lead, like I said, had the whole field lapped at one point.
Bristol’s a tough track physically, but when the car’s driving that good, it’s not that bad.”
During his press conference at the track Thursday, Earnhardt expanded on why he loves the track, remembering having a blast there as a kid. He described the track as uniquely exciting, especially when he was younger and a spectator.
BRISTOL RESOURCE: Check this out for all your info on shuttles, trams and gate operations for race week!
— BristolMotorSpeedway (@BMSupdates) August 8, 2017
“Honestly, when I was a little kid, the night race here was my favorite race in the season. We didn’t get to go to all the races. Typically, we went to a lot in the summer. We begged to go to all the races, but Bristol was my favorite for a lot of different reasons. But as a 12- to 15-year-old kid, this place was just the ultimate playground, and we enjoyed coming here.
“The racing’s always been incredible. It is so special and unique – different than anything else we do and just something that I’m super proud of for the sport. It’s been an incredible race track and has done so much for NASCAR over the years to promote the sports and give folks a great place to come enjoy a race.”