mobile app bar

NASCAR All-Star Moments: When Dale Earnhardt Jr. Won the Race as a Rookie

Gowtham Ramalingam

NASCAR All-Star Moments: When Dale Earnhardt Jr. Won the Race as a Rookie

One of the most memorable moments in the NASCAR All-Star event’s 39-year history is when Dale Earnhardt Jr. sped to victory lane in 2000 as a rookie. His #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. team had been running in the Busch Series before then and was looking for some much-needed validation in the top tier when the race came. Rather heroically, the son of the legendary Dale Earnhardt provided just that.

Charlotte Motor Speedway’s President H.A. Wheeler predicted before the race that the young driver would surprise the lot at the end of the day. With brighter stars like Dale Jarrett and Earnhardt Sr. himself on the field, the talk was discarded as pointless by many. However, Dale Jr. would go on to display phenomenal speed and pass race leader Jarrett with three laps to go and collect the win.

He infamously said during the celebrations, “We didn’t come here to run third. We came here to take all the money.” And that he did. Notably, he’d qualified for the race just weeks earlier by picking up his first-ever Cup Series victory in Texas. He ended up being the first rookie driver ever to win an All-Star race.

Why Dale Earnhardt Jr. considers the All-Star win his greatest victory ever

Earnhardt Sr. is not one to hang around the pit road and participate in post-race celebrations. But he was on the night when his son got the better of all the stars including himself. Dale Jr. fondly recalls the moment calling it the favorite of his career, “What made this night the greatest in my racing career, though, was not what I achieved, but who I shared it with.”

“My dad finished third in the race, and as soon as he got out of his car, he hurriedly changed clothes and ran to Victory Lane to celebrate as the winning car owner and proud father. He stayed the entire time, too – through the pictures, the hat dance, and the many cases of Budweiser sprayed in celebration. It was a great night made perfect by his presence. It will never be topped.”

For a driver who is the most celebrated in NASCAR and has won a great many victories, to call an All-Star night the greatest of his career paints quite the picture of just how special the event is.

About the author

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham is a NASCAR journalist at The SportsRush. Though his affinity for racing stems from Formula 1, he found himself drawn to NASCAR's unparalleled excitement over the years. As a result he has shared his insights and observations by authoring over 350 articles on the sport. An avid fiction writer, you can find him lost in imaginary worlds when he is not immersed in racing. He hopes to continue savoring the thrill of every lap and race together with his readers for as long as he can.

Read more from Gowtham Ramalingam

Share this article