With success on track, combined with taking the sport to new levels away from the speedways, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has left his impact on NASCAR.
A two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion with 26 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories to his credit, he proved that he could get the job done behind the wheel. However, his down-to-earth personality brought out a legion of fans, as showcased with 14 Most Popular Driver Awards.
After spending the past 17 years in NASCAR’s top division, Earnhardt is set to take step away from the driver’s seat as the 2017 season will mark his last full year behind the wheel.
Here’s a glance back through his career highlights.
Leading 106 laps, Earnhardt scored his first career victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
It did not take long for Earnhardt to get his first pole award, coming in the 12th race of his rookie campaign in 2000 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca Cola 600.
Earnhardt cemented his place as one of the up-and-coming drivers when he became the first rookie to win the All-Star race in 2000.
After his father Dale Earnhardt died on the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001, the sport returned to Daytona International Speedway for the first time in July. Earnhardt Jr. impressed that night, leading 116 laps en route to the victory. The words from Alan Bestwick “using lessons learned from his father” continue to ring through the ears of many fans.
While his dad cemented a legacy at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt Jr. added to it in style, winning four straight races from October 2001 to April 2003 at the 2.66-mile oval.
Making the pass on Tony Stewart with 20 laps to go, Earnhardt scored his first Daytona 500 victory in 2004.
The 2004 season was his most successful on-track, if you look at the win column, with six victories. However, the best year statistically looking at the year-end standings would be placing third in 2013.
Earnhardt shook NASCAR Nation in 2007 when he announced that at season’s end, he would leave Dale Earnhardt Incorporated to drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.
Pacing 54 laps, Earnhardt scored his second career Daytona 500 victory in 2014.
Throughout his career, Earnhardt was able to claim 26 race victories, with his most recent coming at Phoenix Raceway in 2015.
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