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Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first-ever NASCAR race came in a 1996 Xfinity Series race at the Myrtle Beach Speedway. The track being one he had driven on multiple times in late-models, he qualified 7th and finished 14th. Many were impressed with his show of skill, including his uncle, Danny Earnhardt, who called Dale Sr. and said, “The boy can drive.” Between 1996 and 1997, Junior drove a part-time schedule for Dale Earnhardt Inc. before getting signed on as a full-time driver for the 1998 season.  

Career Highlights

  Junior won his first Xfinity Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway in 1998. The win gave him some much needed confidence that he was a good enough driver to follow in his father’s footsteps. The positivity got strongly reinforced when he kept the streak alive through the season to find the victory lane 6 more times and finally win his first major title, becoming the Busch Series champion.   He made his Cup Series debut in 1999, driving the #8 Chevrolet at the Coca-Cola 600 and ended up finishing the race in 16th place. Back in the Busch Series, he collected 6 wins which led to a consecutive Busch Series championship. 1999 was his final full-time season in the second tier.   His first full-time run in the Cup Series came in 2000. With wins in Texas and Richmond, he finished his rookie year with 2 wins, 2 poles and 5-top 10s. He ended up 16th in the driver standings. 2001 was a trying year for Junior. His father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., passed away on February 18 in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500. Despite the emotional setback, Junior raced through the season and finished eighth in standings.   2003 marked yet another continual season of improvement for the driver. He garnered 2 wins and 21 top-10s that helped him finish third in driver standings. He also got voted by fans as the Most Popular Driver, an award he would go on to collect for the next 15 years. Junior grabbed one of his biggest victories till date in the 2004 Daytona 500. The same year, he won his first title as a team owner, with Martin Truex Jr. at the wheel for Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Xfinity operation.    After 8 full-time seasons with DEI, he moved to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2007 season. Driving the #88 car for Rick Hendrick’s team, Junior parted ways with the #8 Budweiser car that he was known for. The debut season broke his 76-race winless streak with a win at the Michigan International Speedway.   In 2010, he brought his father’s #3 car for an Xfinity Series race at the Daytona International Speedway and ended up winning the event. He announced in the aftermath that it would be the last race for the car. Rick Hendrick paired Steve Letarte as Junior’s crew chief in the 2011 season. Chemistry brewing well between the two, the pair broke yet another winless streak of Junior - 143 races - with a win at Michigan in 2012.   He made his 500th Cup Series start in 2013 and finished 5th in standings. The Daytona 500 trophy landed at his feet once again in 2014 and marked his 20th career win. The season turned out to be a very successful one for him with 4 victory lane visits but the newly introduced elimination-style format played spoilsport to his title chances and he ended up finding the sack at Talladega. However, consolation came in the form of another Xfinity championship as a team owner of JR Motorsports.   In 2016, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Junior was facing symptoms suggestive of a hard concussion and that he would have to sit a few races out. What was supposed to be six race misses ended up as eighteen, as he stayed out for the rest of the season.  Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman filled in for him in the #88 Chevrolet.   2017 closed the shutters on Junior’s long and illustrious career in NASCAR. He won two poles in the final season, for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and the Alabama 500 at Talladega.  


  Junior’s retirement was pushed by the concussion that he suffered in 2016. He had already missed two races back in 2012 because of the same issue. The treacherous penultimate season led him to reflect on certain personal matters and prioritize them. At the time of his announcement, he underlined that he could have called it quits with the 2016 season but had a year left on his contract with Hendrick and wanted to honor it.   He said in his announcement, "I realized how delicate things were and how quickly things can be taken from you. I had a lot to think about over the last several months, and I was not sure I would have the opportunity to compete this season. It's been a blessing and it's been a gift to be at the race track.”   Team owner Rick Hendrick had been the first person whom Junior had talked to about the decision. The two ended up having a healthy conversation that shut things down smoothly for the 42-year-old star.


In his career in the Cup Series that lasted from 1999 to 2017, Junior had 631 starts. He won the pole in 15 of them, reached Victory Lane 26 times and finished in the top-10 260 times. He had his most victorious year in 2004 with 6 wins. 10 of his 26 victories came at the Daytona and Talladega tracks. He secured a career high average finish of 10.3 in his maiden year with Hendrick Motorsports (2008).   In the Xfinity Series, Junior has a total of 27 wins and 95 top-10s from 146 starts.

After Retirement

Junior joined the NBC Sports broadcast team in 2018 to serve as a color commentator. He joined his old crew chief, Steve Letarte, who’d already moved to the box. He currently analyzes races in the Cup Series and Xfinity Series along with other events like the Indianapolis 500 for NBC. He also runs a production house “DirtyMo Media” which creates famous podcasts like the Dale Jr. Download and Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin.   As a team owner, Junior continues running JR Motorsports (JRM) that he founded in 2005. Though the team’s initial outlooks were bleak, things turned around when Hendrick Motorsports merged its Xfinity operations with it. Since then, JRM has produced multiple Cup Series stars including Chase Elliott and William Byron. The team has three championships in the Xfinity Series (2014, 2017 and 2018) so far.   In 2023, Junior joined hands with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Justin Marks to purchase the CARS Tour, a premier late-model asphalt series.

Personal Life

Junior was born and brought up in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Alongside being the son of a legendary stock car racer, he was also the grandson of Ralph Earnhardt, a NASCAR car builder. Junior grew up with his elder sister, Kelley, and half-siblings Kerry and Taylor.  He met Amy Reimann, an interior designer, through a reference who’d recommended her to work on his Mooresville Mansion. Upon meeting, the couple found an instant connection and began dating in no time. They got engaged at a church in Europe in 2015 and were married a year later. Junior and Amy share two children together. Isla Rose was born in 2018 and Nicole Lorraine in 2020. The family of four currently resides in their mansion that is 40 miles north of Mooresville, North Carolina.  

Net Worth

  Reports suggest that with $300 million to his name, Dale Jr. is the richest NASCAR star. He was listed by Forbes as one of the highest paid athletes in the world in 2017 ($21.4 million). His personal endorsement partners included Nationwide, Chevrolet, Axalta and Wrangler. Junior’s North Carolina residence is valued at $5.2 million.  

Hall of Fame Induction

  Junior was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021. Although he never won a championship in the Cup Series, his influence on NASCAR and the worldwide audience stretched far beyond that of even his father. He served as the sport’s most important ambassador for several years and was inducted into the hall by his wife, Amy. He said in his speech, “To join Dad in the Hall of Fame is probably as good as it is ever going to get.”   

The Dale Jr. Foundation

  The Dale Jr. Foundation went on the ground in 2007 and focuses on providing financial help to non-profit organizations that are involved in the areas of Hope, Hunger, Wellness, Education and Empowerment. Its list of beneficiaries include Blessings in Backpack, Children’s Hope Alliance, Classroom Central, and others. The foundation has raised more than $11 million since 2007.   Most recently, it raised $1.3 million in 2023. To help its efforts, Junior had participated in its annual ride-along program at the North Wilkesboro and Martinsville Speedways.  

Social Media

Junior is active on social media through his handles on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook