Dale Earnhardt Jr.

February 9, 2009 by  
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Together with brother, Kerry, Dale Earnhardt Jr, bought a street car from a junkyard. The brothers built the car into street stock car, and Dale Earnhardt Jr started racing in the street stock division at the early age of 17. This is where his professional driving career started, which isn’t all that surprising, as racing is in his blood, with his father already a well known name around the tracks. Dale was a natural, and it only took him two seasons to move up to the ranks of NASCAR, in the Late Model Stock Division. This move saw Dale racing on tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway, Nashville Speedway USA, Florence Motor Speedway and Tri-County Speedway. His career was underway, and by his third year in NASCAR Winston Racing Series, Dale had managed to secure 113 starts, he had won three races and had taken twelve poles.

The year 1996 turned out to be his best up to then. Dale Earnhart Jr had made 53 starts, won two races, grabbed eight poles and finished second at Florence, in points. This year also had Dale start his career in the NASCAR Busch Series. His first effort was a job well done, as he had qualified 7th, and on race day, he finished in 14th position.

The year 1998 was an exciting year for Dale Earnhardt Jr. He started his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series, and his first race was the NAPA 300, which took place at the Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately for Dale, his first race did not go as planned and he was involved in a wreck, thankfully walking away unharmed. On 4 April 1998, at the Coca-Cola 300, which was raced at the Texas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr, proudly took first place. But it was the announcement that took place on 21 September 1998, that Dale had been waiting for. His potential had been spotted by Budweiser, and they had agreed to sponsor him to drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Dale Earnhardt Jr, followed in the footsteps of his father, but with his own style, grace and confidence, that secured him his own fan-base and a career apart from his father. Dale Earnhardt Snr in turn, supported his son, and was happy to just be the proud father and play a supporting role in his son’s career. Tragedy struck this close bond in 2001. It was the first race of the new racing season, and fans were terribly excited as Michael Waltrip won the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr came in second and third place was to be Dale Earnhardt Snr. This is an ending fans only dream about, and the atmosphere was electric. But on the last lap, Dale Earnhardt Snr crashed his car, and lost his life in the sport he loved, and in a position he was proud of, supporting his son. The tragic loss not only tore through a family, but broke the heart of every supporter.

As his father would have wanted him to, Dale Earnhardt Jr continued to achieve in in this fiercely competitive and fast-paced sport, becoming a legend in his own right. By the end of 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr had 18 wins to his name, with 89 finishes in the Top Five, and 144 in the Top Ten. His last win was the 2008 Lifelock 400 Sprint Cup at Michigan International Speedway. He qualified second and finished second in the 2010 Daytona 500. He set the record for the fastest recorded qualifying time (28.76) at 310.2 kph at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a Car of Tomorrow on 5 March 2010. There’s little doubt that fans can expect plenty of nail-biting action from this talented NASCAR driver in the months to come.

Jimmie Johnson

February 9, 2009 by  
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Jimmie Kenneth Johnson was born in El Cajon, California on the 17th of September 1975. His racing career began successfully on 50cc motorcycles when he was five-years old. By the age of eight he won the 60cc class championship, even though he had injured his knee and there were still seven races to go. From motorcycles he made his way to four wheels where he competed in many off-road leagues. These included SODA, Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group and SCORE International. Here he received Rookie of the Year honors in all three leagues, made a total of 25 wins, over 100 top-three finishes and six championships. In 1996 and 1997 SODA series Jimmie Johnson raced with Herzog Motorsports as well as being a field reporter for ESPN in the SODA series.

A year later Johnson joined the American Speed Association (ASA) circuit where he was chosen for Rookie of the Year honors as well as finishing fourth overall. At the same time he joined NASCAR Busch Series and began racing with them. In 1999 he did the same, running in both the ASA and Busch Series and won twice, finishing third in the ASA point race. The following year he became a Busch Series driver but this time with Herzog Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson won his first Busch Series in 2001 on the Chicagoland Speedway at the Hills Brothers Coffee 300.

By the end of 2006 Johnson had the honor of being the only driver to win the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship all in one year and the only driver to win three Coca-Cola 600s in one go. Jimmie’s 2006 season saw him win the first of four Sprint Cup Series championships, as well as the Nextel All-Star challenge. He was voted 2006 Driver of the year, an award that is unique in that it covers the entire racing series in the United States. Johnson continued on a winning streak in 2007 where he won a series of races as well as his second consecutive championship. 2008 saw Johnson notching up 7 wins, 6 poles, 15 top-fives, 22 top-tens and the Sprint Cup Series championship. In 2009 he made NASCAR history by being the first driver to win four consecutive championships. His achievements for the season included 7 wins, 4 poles, 16 top-fives, and 24 top-tens. Jimmie Johnson was chosen as the 2009 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Having set the goal of winning five consecutive championships, by the end of March 2010 Johnson was right on track with 3 wins, 3 top-fives, and 3 top-tens, the downside being a DNF at the Daytona 500. Currently Johnson drives the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, which is owned by Jeff Gordon, sponsored by Lowe’s and operated by Hendrick Motorsports.

Michael Waltrip

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born on 30 April 1963, Michael Curtis Waltrip showed enthusiasm for racing from a young age. His older brother Darrel Waltrip became a three-time NASCAR champion and it didn’t take long for Michael to start following in his big brother’s footsteps. He got involved in kart racing in his teens and switched to stockcars by the time he was eighteen years of age. In 1981, he won a division of the track championship at the Kentucky Speedway. In 1983 he won the Goody’s Dash Series and he also took the prize for Goody’s most popular driver in 1983 and 1984. These early successes were certainly indicative of greater things to come.

In 1985 the Kentucky-born racer made his Cup debut at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Though his success at the race was minimal, it was the just the start of his climb to cup success. In 1988, he won at Dover in his fourth start at the Busch Series. At the time he was racing for his brother’s team and his win made quite an impact. Unfortunately, it took quite some time before Waltrip actually enjoyed a Cup race victory. Eventually, at his 464th race he took the chequered flag at the 2001 Daytona 500. He also came in second at the Pepsi 400 that same season. He won the Daytona 500 again in 2003 and his last win was the EA Sports 500 in Talladega in 2003.

During the course of his career, Michael Waltrip has driven his #55 car with great skill. He is known, amongst other things, for his loyalty and skill in the driver’s seat. Today he spends much of his time with his family in North Caronlina where he is an ardent supporter of the Dallas Cowboys. He is still involved with a number of different aspects of racing and he also enjoys participating in numerous marathons. Both he and his brother are often called on to appear in advertisements and he currently serves on the SPEED Channel’s NASCAR Inside Nextel Cup panel of experts. Waltrip has enjoyed four wins, 122 top tens and three pole positions. He continues to be involved in racing and will likely continue to enjoy a long and successful racing-related career.

Todd Bodine

February 9, 2009 by  
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The younger brother of Geoff Bodine and Brett Bodine, both of whom were race drivers, Todd Bodine is a great stock car racer. He made his big debut at the Busch Series in 1986 where he finished 27th out of 30 due to an engine problem. At the time he was racing for Pistone Racing at Martinsville. From there he went on to suffer three years of misfortune, driving a number of races but not winning any of them. In 1990, things started to change for the better, and by the end of the year he had come 8th, 7th and even 3rd at various races around the country.

The following year proved to be even more successful. Not long after signing to drive for Frank Cicci, he won his first career race. That same year he also finished in the top ten as many as fifteen times and he won his first two poles. By the end of 1991 he was ranked seventh in points. In 1992, Todd Bodine began his career as a Cup racer at the age of 28 years old. His first Cup race took place at the Watkins Glen International Raceway where he finished 37th. New to the Cup race game, Todd had some catching up to do before he would again make it to the top. In 1994 he raced his first full-time season for RahMoc Enterprises. During that season he missed only one race and he finished in the top five twice and in the top ten seven times. By the end of the year he was ranked 20th. It was a brilliant year for him – one of his best overall.

In 2001 Todd Bodine went back into full time Cup racing when he raced the K-Mart Ford Taurus for Haas-Carter Motorsports. Despite a somewhat mediocre run, he did manage to win two of the first three races of the Busch Series later that year. Todd Bodine has since driven for a number of companies and organisations. His greatest accomplishment was when he won the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.

By the end of 2009 Todd Bodine‘s stats included 21 top-ten finishes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, 15 wins and 160 top-tens in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and 17 wins with 81 top-ten finishes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Ward Burton

February 9, 2009 by  
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Ward Burton was born on October 25, 1961, later becoming a famous American NASCAR driver. After High School Burton joined and graduated from Hargrave Military Academy and then attended Elon College for just under 3 years. Ward is NASCAR driver Jeff Burton’s older brother. In the early years Ward and Jeff were strong competitors at South Boston Speedway, their hometown track.

During the 1990 season Ward started off his NASCAR Busch Series career and competed for a full four seasons. His first season ended with 23 starts and three finishes in the Top-10, with an overall completion of the season in 21st place. Over the next three years his results improved, with his second season made up of 29 starts, two Top-5 finishes and 10 top-10 finishes, completing the overall season in 18th place.

Ward’s second to last season in 1992 was the year he had his first win at Rockingham, on February 29 in a car owned by Alan Dillard. That year he finished the season with one win, three Top-5 finishes and 10 Top-10 finishes, with an 8th place placement. His final season in 1993 was his most successful year with a total of three wins, nine Top-5, ten Top-10 finishes with an end result of 6th place in the final points standings. From there Ward moved up to Winston Cup, taking part in 26 out of the 31 races in a #31 Hardee’s Chevy.

His accomplishments grew when he moved to #22 Bill Davis Racing MBNA Pontiac where he completed 21 races. The years to follow showed a progressive advancement from 33rd spot to 16 in the final points standings. The year 1999 saw Ward Burton’s career peak, as he finished ninth in the final points standings.

In 2000 he won at Darlington Speedway and was 10th in the points. He won the Mountain Dew Southern 500, finishing 10th in 2001. In 2002 he had a bit of a dip but still managed to win the prestigious Daytona 500 and the New England 300 at Loudon, New Hampshire. In 2003 he had even poorer finishes, putting him in 21st place. The following year Ward Burton was released from the team and since then has not raced in NASCAR.

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