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# 88

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the third generation of The Earnhardt family, who have made names for themselves on the NASCAR circuit. Following in the footsteps of his legendary father (Dale, Sr.) and grandfather (Ralph), it’s easy to see how the Earnhardt name is one of the most famous names in the history of the sport. Dale, Jr. (most often referred to as “Junior”) is actually named after BOTH his father and his grandfather, as his given name is Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Born on October 10, 1974 in the town of Concord, North Carolina, “Junior” has forged quite a successful racing career. Between 1998-2007, Earnhardt won 39 races in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. During those years, “Junior” raced for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (the racing group founded by his father).

Because of such a successful run…..his likeable nature….and the fact that he has carried the Earnhardt family name so well, “Junior” has become one of the most popular racers in NASCAR today. For seven consecutive years, he has been named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. The only other person to ever be named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for seven consecutive years was the legendary Bill Elliott. Not only is Earnhardt one of the most popular NASCAR drivers, whenever polls of Most Popular Athletes are taken, invariably his name will be listed among the likes of Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Michael Phelps and others.

As stated earlier, the first ten years of Earnhardt’s career, he raced for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. But in 2007, Earnhardt signed on to start racing for Rick Headrick at Headrick Motorsports. And even though that initial contract is about to run out, as of the writing of this article, reports are that Headrick wants to sign “Junior” to a new multi-year contract (8/3/2011, Kansas City Star). Even though Earnhardt hasn’t been in the winner’s circle lately, Headrick still has a lots of confidence in Earnhardt’s ability. Note: When negotiating with Headrick, Earnhardt sends his sister (Kelley Earnhardt Elledge) in to represent him. According to “Junior”, “I’m too nice…. I had to send my sister in there because she is a shark about it.”

Earnhardt’s crowning achievement in his career thus far, would have to be when he won the 2004 Daytona 500. That year was a great year for him, as he won six Sprint Cup races that season. Along with his victory at Daytona, Earnhardt also finished first at these races: Golden Corral 500 (Atlanta); Chevy American Revolution 400 (Richmond); Sharpie 500 (Bristol); EA Sports 500 (Talladega) and the Checker Auto Parts 500 (Phoenix).

Talladega has been a track where Earnhardt has had a lot of Sprint Cup success, as he has five victories there. (the EA Sports 500 races in 2001, 2002, and 2004; and the Aaron’s 499 in 2002 and 2003.)

Earnhardt currently races in the #88 car, a Chevrolet Impala. He had been #8 for the first part of his NASCAR career, and wanted to keep that number when he left DEI. But he wasn’t allowed to take that number with him when he went to Headrick, and has been racing as #88 ever since.

It’s been a while since Earnhardt has won… has his last Sprint Cup victory (as of this writing) was at the Lifelock 400 in Michigan (June 15, 2008). But he’s a good driver, with a good team, and he’ll win again. Just wait and see