Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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.