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Dale Jr.'s Coca-Cola 600 paint scheme salutes hero
RELATED: 600 Miles of Remembrance: Drivers honor fallen military members Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s special patriotic scheme for his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports was revealed after an overwhelming response on social media. The patriotic look for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) honors Lance Corporal Aaron Reed. Reed was killed in Iraq in 2005 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Originally, the scheme was to be revealed at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, but the social media response of more than 2,600 retweets led to the company revealing the paint scheme at 2 p.m. ET on Monday. Earnhardt is winless in 32 points-paying starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway with 12 top 10s at his home track.
Stewart: Relationship with Harvick similar to Earnhardt , Childress
In a sit down with Kenny Wallace for FS1, Tony Stewart comments on Kevin Harvick’s extension with Stewart-Haas Racing and how their relationship compares to the one Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt had.
1987 Winston: Elliott will 'never forget' Earnhardt's all-star move
Editor's note: This week we're looking back at the 1987 Winston All-Star Race, one of the most historic races in NASCAR history. RELATED: The 1987 Winston: Where Are They Now? Nearly 30 years later NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott still says he has never been more frustrated in a race car than he was with the ending of the 1987 running of The Winston All-Star Race. He led a dominating 121 of the 135 laps but came out on the wrong end of a hard-nosed door-to-door battle for the win with the "Intimidator" Dale Earnhardt in the final 10-lap segment. The close-quarter, late-lap racing in The Winston between the season's top two championship contenders famously resulted in Earnhardt's "pass in the grass" -- even though in reality it was much closer to a maintain-in-the-terrain, but it still became racing lore. The race itself is a legitimately legendary story starring Elliott and Earnhardt with perhaps the most famous NASCAR driver lineups of all-time essentially playing supporting roles. Hall of Famers such as Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip raced that day, joining many of the sport's all-time most popular racers such as Neil Bonnett, Geoffrey Bodine and Tim Richmond. As NASCAR prepares for the modern-day version of this event, the Sprint All-Star Race this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway , it's a good stock-car history lesson to relive the 1987 event. Many consider this the most famous All-Star running -- a hard-nosed, win-at-all-costs race that raised the sport's profile and its expectations. In particular, the late-lap duel between Elliott and Earnhardt is considered required folklore for NASCAR fans, as it was the first instance of the All-Star Race having a 10-lap shootout to the finish. Even today Elliott is still miffed about his missed opportunity, he told NASCAR.com "That was probably the maddest I've ever been, but you just have to deal with it and go on,’’ said Elliott, who after being passed by Earnhardt had to pit in the waning laps to change out a flat tire, ultimately finishing 14th.
Earnhardt Jr. reveals new paint scheme
RELATED: See Junior's Darlington scheme " SHOP: Dale Jr. die-casts Dale Earnhardt Jr . took to social media -- as he so often does -- Monday afternoon to reveal a new paint scheme. Specifically, to reveal his No. 88 Nationwide Children's Hospital Chevrolet for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. What's different about this look is the campaign that goes along with it. Five hundred fans who make a donation will have their names printed on the hood of the car. I’ll be driving this @Nationwide88 scheme at @KySpeedway in July to support @NationwideKids . pic.twitter.com/oqCxjC3y8o — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 3, 2016 Nationwide will serve as Earnhardt Jr.'s primary sponsor for 21 races in 2016.
Dale Jr.: 'We got a lot of work to do'
In what could seemingly be called the State of the Union for the No. 88 team at the near-midway point of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season, Dale Earnhardt Jr . proclaimed that the team has "got a lot of work to do" on Dirty Mo Radio's "The Dale Jr. Download." Those words and more below came after Earnhardt's involvement in an 18-car wreck on Lap 355 in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway left him with a 32nd-place finish, the fourth straight finish outside the top 10 for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. That stretch has also seen the sport's most popular driver drop from sixth to 11th in the driver point standings. "Last week, it was 'yeah, we finished 15th (at Kansas). We'll get it figured out.' This week, it's more we got a problem, Houston," Earnhardt said. "It's time to start understanding how severe this situation is and get to owning it. Try to figure something out. We got a long season, lot of racing left. "Not quite halfway to the Chase deadline (at Richmond) and I'm looking at this teams in the Chase and the teams that are not in the Chase and I know we're better than them. It ain't good enough to be just good enough to make it. In years past, we've won races, been locked in. We were up in the top five in points throughout the year. We definitely aren't the team we were the past few years. We’ve got to figure out what's going on. How we're getting beat." A 26-time winner in the sport's top series, Earnhardt is coming off seven wins in the past two seasons. In both of those seasons, Earnhardt had already registered a win by this point in the season (The Daytona 500 in 2014 and Talladega in May of 2015), which pretty much sewed up his postseason spot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . This week's Sprint All-Star Race (Saturday, May 21, approx. 9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) provides a bit of a real-time laboratory for the team to find some answers. "This All-Star Race weekend coming up ain't going to be the answer to all our problems, but it's an opportunity to work on some of them. I’ll be honest with you, I'd rather win that (Coca-Cola) 600 a 1,000 times more than I'd rather win the All-Star Race. Running good and running better the rest of the year is much more important to me than stumbling into a million bucks on this all-star weekend. "If we come out of the All-Star Race winners, but don't understand how to go into the (Coca-Cola) 600 and be competitive, it does us no good. I put us learning something, us understanding how to get better and us getting better as a team above anything else going forward." The team doing most of the winning in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series of late is the Joe Gibbs Racing stable of Kyle Busch (the defending series champion), Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth . Those four drivers have combined for seven wins through the first 12 races of the 2016 season. Last season, the foursome combined to win 14 races, including 11 of the final 21 races. This season, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded two wins through the first 12 races of the season, both by Jimmie Johnson , among its four-driver lineup of Earnhardt , Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne . "As a company, I think everybody agrees that we can be faster. I think with us all working toward that goal, sooner or later the company itself is going to find that extra gear and it's going to affect all four cars all at once. You see all the Gibbs guys, all quick — practice, qualifying, race. They are all together. That's because their smart, they figured it out, they got something going that's working for them and their sharing information. "Our team's do the same thing. Once we figure out what's going on, once we figure out what we need, I think the whole company will step up. I feel positive that will happen before the Chase. ... We got to go to work."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveals No. 88 paint scheme for Kansas
RELATED: See Junior's Darlington paint scheme " BUY TICKETS: Kansas SHOP: No. 88 gear Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 Axalta/Carstar Chevrolet has a fresh look for GoBowling 400 on May 7 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Hendrick Motorsports team revealed the paint scheme Thursday, a day after pulling the cover back on Junior's thowback paint scheme honoring the "Gray Ghost" for Labor Day weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). That is one sweet ride, @DaleJr ! pic.twitter.com/RIPKb5A2qY — NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 14, 2016 In addition to the Kansas reveal, Dale Jr. took a lap around Uptown Charlotte in the car. MORE: See all the Darlington looks
Dale Jr.: 'I didn't check' steering wheel at 'Dega
RELATED: Junior explains steering wheel mistake MOORESVILLE -- Barely 50 laps had been completed when Dale Earnhardt Jr ., his team and his No. 88 Chevrolet were found in the garage Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway . Repairs to fix the damaged entry, which had unexpectedly swung around and collected Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne , took time. Rain was threatening to shorten the 188-lap GEICO 500 , which was nearing the halfway point when the car was deemed ready to return to action. But in a rush to get back out on the track and avoid a potential DNF (Did Not Finish), the series' Most Popular driver didn't notice that his steering wheel was not fully engaged as he rolled back out onto the 2.66-mile track. Until it came off in his hands. "I put the wheel on and never grabbed the coupler and made sure it was locked," Earnhardt said Tuesday. "… You're out of your element because you've crashed, you're in the garage, they're fixing the car, it's starting to rain, the caution's coming out, you're going to climb back in." Before the race went back green, crew chief Greg Ives asked his driver to check his safety belts and steering wheel. When Earnhardt pulled back on the wheel, it came off the column. Earnhardt quickly grabbed the column to momentarily steer the car before reattaching the steering wheel. "I was out of my element," he said. "Just scrambling, trying to get going and I didn't check it. We always put the wheel on and pull it and I didn't do it." RELATED: What grade did Junior get for the day? While his chances at victory were non-existent, to be still running whenever the race ended was important. "There are these little things that people don't think about that are a source of pride for drivers, teams, crew chiefs," Earnhardt said. "You don't want a DNF. Even if that means get back out and run the last lap. That counts; you finished. … "Anytime you crash a car, you load it up and you know you might, could have fixed it, it's a feeling you just can't get over. Because you didn't do everything you could have. And if you take that home with you, it's just an empty feeling. "You go there to run all the laps. When you get kicked and beat down and knocked off the top or you're having a bad day … the best thing you can do to go home with a clear conscience is to work as hard as you can to do everything you can before the checkered flag. You run every lap you can run, even if it's pointless." This time, it was just that as the Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards collected Earnhardt just a short time after his return. "Literally, it was pointless for us to be back out there," Earnhardt said. "We might have gotten one point. "That's what you do. You get out there and you fix it. You've got all that crash-cart (equipment) there for a reason. You make your guys go through the process of fixing the car because next time they fix it, they might do it 15 minutes quicker because they find some shortcuts and that might be important in the Chase." The car, now-famously nicknamed "Amelia" by Earnhardt won't be making any more starts. The combination of damage from the two incidents was too severe. Instead, it'll eventually be added to Earnhardt's "graveyard" of crashed vehicles on his private property. "I'll put it in the dirt, in the woods, and let the weeds take it," he said. "We'll build a new one and it will be good at Daytona. "I hate that that car ran those two races and had those two awful finishes because it did have such a good 2015. We should have parked it and built a new one and said that's the end of the deal with that one." Earnhardt drove the car to victory last season at both Daytona (in July) and Talladega (in May), and finished second (at Talladega in fall Chase race) and third ( Daytona 500 ) in '15 as well. RELATED: Edwards finishes off Junior's bad day This year, he crashed at Daytona and the car was repaired in time for Talladega. But there'll be no more fixing for this one. "We need to build a new car and we probably should have done that in the offseason," he said. "We got attached to this thing and really liked what it did last year. We were hoping we could keep having success with it; it was still a pretty good car."
As executive producer, Dale Jr. excited about new series
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- When Dale Earnhardt Jr . previewed the first installment of the upcoming three-part series "NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said he was amazed at what he witnessed. "The first part I watched like a kid at Christmas," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said Tuesday, adding that he kept thinking, "This is cool; I love what I'm seeing. I didn't know it was like this; this is awesome." Earnhardt is an executive producer for the series, which debuts this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CMT. "You know about Red Byron (NASCAR's first premier series champion) and guys like that and what they've done but you've never actually had a window into what they might have been like," he said. "So that was really, really neat. "Watching that first episode, it's completely different from watching the other two. The other two I was there, or I remember it as a kid. You immediately go to sort of picking it apart and (asking) does it live up to the standard?" The series (episodes 2 and 3 will air on consecutive Sundays, May 15 and May 22) uses archival footage as well as reenactments and interviews to document the history of NASCAR from its beginning to modern day. Among those contributing on-air to the project were stars such as Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway Corp., provide additional insights. NASCAR founder William Henry Getty France was their grandfather, Bill France Jr. their father. Episode 1 details stock car racing's rough, raw beginnings and the senior France's desire to pursue his dream of bringing acceptability and professionalism to the sport. Episode 2 features the continued rise of the sport and France's many battles to bring NASCAR to mainstream America. Episode 3 begins with the '79 Daytona 500 , a watershed moment for NASCAR, and focuses heavily on the career of France's son, Bill Jr., and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt before closing with where NASCAR sits in today's sports landscape. But it was that first episode that Earnhardt Jr. said, "Intrigues me the most. "Because I wasn't there and didn't know much about that time," he said. "You know people's names and you match that name with an accomplishment. But you never really knew their personalities much. "I believe in this kind of film you're able to see maybe what this guy's attitude or personality was like. You see when Big Bill is trying to form NASCAR, some of the drivers are kind of grinding against the gears and pushing back a little bit. "We really don't know a lot about that and there aren't a lot of stories telling that part of it, that side of it. So that was real interesting."
NASCAR drops green flag on NASCAR Emoji Garage
If you haven't noticed, emojis are just about everywhere you look, and options are as clever as they are varied. Name an emotion -- there is likely an emoji for it. Name a food -- definitely an emoji for it. Animal ... emoji. You get the picture. Have you ever wondered what a Dale Earnhardt Jr . emoji would look like? How about Danica Patrick ? Wouldn't a Kyle Busch emoji be sweet. Well, the emoji phenomenon has hit NASCAR. In advance of this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), fans will have the chance to share their favorite driver emojis wherever and whenever they want. Today marks the launch of NASCAR Emoji Garage , a brand-new app filled with NASCAR-themed emoji stickers available for free at the Apple App Store -- click here . The app is designed to be a platform for fans to engage with their favorite teams and drivers through the use of themed stickers. Teams and drivers helped choose their favorite sticker designs, making NASCAR Emoji Garage the latest platform allowing fans to connect with the sport any day of the week. Some examples below:
Hall of Fame preview: Mark Martin amongst contenders
RELATED: Meet 2017's nominees " Live stream of reveal, 5 p.m. ET Mark Martin will be one of 20 people considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame when the Voting Panel convenes in Charlotte on Wednesday to determine the 2017 class. (TV coverage: NBCSN, 5 p.m. ET) Three of those on the ballot are former premier series champions -- Red Byron, NASCAR's first Strictly Stock champion in 1949; Benny Parsons, the 1973 winner who went on to enjoy a successful second career in the broadcast booth; and Alan Kulwicki, killed in a plane crash just four-and-a-half months after capturing the 1992 crown. There was no championship trophy for Martin, who retired from competition at the end of the 2013 season. But that doesn't diminish the accomplishments the Batesville, Arkansas, native garnered during a career that spanned more than three decades. Martin, 57, won 40 times in the premier series, with victories coming at 21 different tracks. He finished 10th or better 453 times, in more than half of his 882 career starts. He also won 56 poles. RELATED: Live stream, 5 p.m. ET, Wednesday In the battle for the championship, Martin placed second five times, a mark he shares with current Hall of Fame member Bobby Allison, and he scored 17 top-10 points finishes during his career. "It makes me proud I was able to be as successful as I was and grateful for the opportunities I had," Martin told Little Rock, Arkansas, radio station KABZ-FM recently. "To be real honest I didn't enjoy a … significant part of my career because I was trying so hard to get that championship because I wanted it, and even more than that, the people who supported me wanted it for me so badly. I saw time running out. "I spent too much of my time focused on that and not enjoying the opportunities I had. Today, when I look back on it I wish I hadn't done that." Martin lost the 1990 title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt and finished second to the Richard Childress Racing driver again four years later. Other runner-up finishes through the years came against Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson . "My life would not be different one bit had I won one of those or not," Martin said. "I had a great career. … I don't think it would have changed a thing in my life had I won one of those trophies. I was very close. I got beat by only four of the greatest of all time in NASCAR in my opinion. … "I'm not embarrassed." Earnhardt was one of five members inducted into the Hall’s inaugural class in 2010. Gordon, a four-time series champion with 93 career victories, retired from driving at the end of 2015 and won't be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration until 2018 and possible induction until '19. Stewart, winner of three premier series titles and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , will cease to compete full time in the series following the 2016 season. Johnson is a six-time champion and boasts 77 career wins, including two thus far this season. In addition to his premier series exploits, Martin held the XFINITY Series record for career wins for 14 years and is also a seven-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series. It is his second consecutive appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. First-year nominees for the 2017 ballot are former Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., team co-owner Jack Roush, driver Ricky Rudd, noted crew chief and engine builder Waddell Wilson and broadcaster Ken Squier. Rounding out the list of nominees are Buddy Baker, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates. Also to be determined by the Voting Panel is the 2017 recipient of the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR. The five nominees are Martinsville Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles, driver Janet Guthrie, team owner Raymond Parks, former RJ Reynolds executive Ralph Seagraves and Squier. The Voting Panel is scheduled to begin the selection process Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Charlotte Convention Center. The announcement of those chosen will take place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Great Hall (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN). NASCAR.com will also live stream the event: You can watch it live here.