|Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first All-Star Race start in 2000|
“It was just really hard to believe that we won that race. I was sitting there in Victory Lane and just couldn’t believe that we had won. I could not wait to see my dad – I remember passing him in that last stage, and that’s something you just dream about. He was thrilled, so that was a real special moment to spend with him – we just couldn’t believe it.”
Earnhardt on running his last All-Star Race
“The All-Star Race to me has always been very important. As a kid watching that race and watching my father run it, hearing him talk about it and explain how important it was to him, what it meant to him and how hard he tried to win it, that really cemented in my mind what it means to the sport.
“It certainly stands alone and has a special meaning, and I’m going to miss the process of the All-Star weekend – the buildup to the race and the preparation and the practice and all the scheming in the garage and the strategies – they change the format every year so it’s somewhat new. I’m going to just miss being a competitor in that atmosphere because you get competitive in the event, but there is also a lot of pride to be in that race and to get that invitation, so to speak. I’ll miss that feeling of accomplishment. Those races are a lot less pressure because there aren’t any points on the line, but it’s a different style of pressure. They are going to have a soft tire, which should be interesting to see just how much better that is and whether that is really going to make a big difference versus the guys that are on a hard tire. It should be a fun weekend. It seems like all the guys on the team really enjoy the pre-race and driver intros. They really include the teams and it’s fun for the drivers to have our guys there with us.”
ALL-STAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned a victory as a rookie in his first start in the NASCAR All-Star Race on May 20, 2000. It was a 70-lap event, and he took the lead from Dale Jarrett with two laps to go to win the race. Earnhardt has made every All-Star Race since 2000, although he has had to run The Open qualifier twice. Both times, Earnhardt transferred to the All-Star Race – once by winning the fan vote (2011) and once by winning The Open (2012). In the last four All-Star events, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has earned a best finish of third (2016) and a worst finish of 10th (2015).
AXALTA GRAND OPENING: On Tuesday, Axalta Coating Systems hosted a grand opening event at the new Customer Experience Center on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. The Customer Experience Center is a 36,000-square-foot training and conference complex designed to serve Axalta’s refinish, transportation OEM, and industrial customers. The Customer Experience Center boasts two state-of-the-art paint application centers, a collaborative mixing lab and an exhibit lobby where visitors can witness the breadth and depth of Axalta’s coating systems and technology.
AXALTA AND MAACO: Maaco, North America’s No. 1 bodyshop and a member of the Charlotte-based Driven Brands family, will make its debut in the All-Star Race on the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS. The opportunity is thanks to a joint promotion with Maaco’s paint partner Axalta Coatings Systems. The Maaco logo will have distinctive visibility on the Axalta paint scheme under the lights for the night race. Earnhardt will participate in a press event on Thursday to promote the partnership. For information, please contact Tiffany Daniels or Debby Robinson.
NATIONWIDE UNVEILS 600 CAR: Nationwide unveiled the brand new, patriotic paint scheme that Earnhardt will pilot for Memorial Day weekend’s 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Watch the red, white and blue No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS come to life by clicking here.
COMMERCIAL BREAK: In case you missed it, Earnhardt has played the leading role in recently debuted ad spots for two of his partners, Mountain Dew and Nationwide. For Mountain Dew, NASCAR’s 14-time most popular driver serves as a pitchman for Dew’s newest product, DEW-S-A. In Nationwide’s new commercial, the insurance company looks at another side of Earnhardt – “Golden Years Dale” – to promote its retirement planning services.