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Purple punch: Earnhardt Jr.'s classic North Wilkesboro memory
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't begin his career in NASCAR's premier series until 1999, three years after the series had moved on from North Wilkesboro Speedway. But Earnhardt Jr., a student of NASCAR history, did compete at the .625-mile track, racing a Late Model entry on at least a couple of occasions. "I ran the Sun Drop (sponsored) car there," Earnhardt Jr. recalled. "Actually, I think we went there twice. With the Sun Drop car I remember qualifying 19th or something; I don't remember how many cars were there but I'm sure they sent a few home so it was cool to make the race." The contentment was short-lived. According to Earnhardt, he "T-boned a guy and had to run the rest of the race with no fenders or hood or anything. So it wasn't a whole lot of fun." The following year, all three Earnhardt siblings -- Earnhardt Jr., older brother Kerry and older sister Kelley -- made the trek to the legendary track to compete in the Late Model race. None of the three managed to qualify, a situation that didn't sit well with their father and team owner, Dale Earnhardt. "Dad had assumed that I would make the race because we'd been running so good at Myrtle Beach ," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He said, 'You guys run this race' and there was a race at Myrtle Beach that night; he was going to fly us in his King Air to the beach so we could compete that night and stay in the track points ( battle )." But when Dale Jr. failed to make the show, "He told me and my guys to screw off, that we had to drive the damn van all the way from North Wilkesboro to Myrtle Beach to try to make the race. "We had to hustle; we barely made it. He was pissed off that all three cars missed the race." MORE: How end of "tire war" started at track Failing to qualify and having to drive all day to that night's race wasn't the only issue. An incident with "questionable" fuel also took place, but Earnhardt Jr. laughs when he recounts the incident today. "I had a jug of trick fuel for my car," he said. "It was a purple gas jug. We kept it in that purple gas jug so we wouldn't mix it up with the other fuel. It was probably Elf fuel or something just to give my car a little more speed. Or it might have had some propylene oxide in there or something. "One of Kerry or Kelley's guys walked over to get some gas for their car and grabbed the purple jug and a fight ensued between their crew and my crew; it sort of let the cat out of the bag that whatever was in that jug was pretty special. That was kind of comical." Something to laugh about, no doubt, on the long drive from the hills of North Wilkesboro to the sands of Myrtle Beach . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Ready. Set. Chase! NASCAR launches Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign
RELATED: Breaking down the Chase field DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. (Sept. 13, 2016) -- NASCAR is bringing to life the drama and excitement of The Chase ® for fans online and on their mobile devices with Ready. Set. Chase, a new, integrated marketing campaign leading with digital and social media to promote the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ™. This year, to complement a robust, multi-platform social media push, NASCAR will engage and entertain fans with a heart-pounding action film series, starring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ drivers re-enacting the action and intensity of The Chase. The first digital video in the five-part series debuted today and can be viewed on NASCAR.com/TheChase . Inspired by the iconic chase scenes in classic Hollywood action films, the creative features reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch , on foot and being pursued by his Chase competitors. An original television spot, titled " The Chase is On," officially launched Ready. Set. Chase on Saturday during the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway . "All season long NASCAR fans have been treated to some incredible racing on the track, but even still there’s nothing quite like The Chase," said NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory. "Ready. Set. Chase plays off the passion, drama and tension that underscores these next 10 weeks, while creating multiple ways for fans to engage and be part of the fun." For the first time, all three NASCAR OEMs are inviting fans to get in on the action by participating in Chase sweepstakes on NASCAR.com . Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota will each award one grand prize winner a new vehicle and VIP trip for two to NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas in December. Fans can register for a chance to win a Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion Sport and Toyota Camry XSE by visiting the Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota sweepstake sites, or after making their weekly picks in the Chase Grid Game on NASCAR.com . "We're thrilled to have all three manufacturers activating around Ready. Set. Chase and creating unique content that elevates the overall Chase experience for our loyal and dedicated fans," said Gregory. In the Chase Grid Game, fans that correctly pick drivers to advance to each Chase round will be entered for a chance to win real gear from the drivers and race tracks, including firesuits, helmets and sheet metal from the race cars. NASCAR will promote #TheChase heavily across all platforms during the sport’s most social postseason ever, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . For each round leading up to Championship Weekend, NASCAR will execute unique activations on specific platforms in an effort to highlight its broad and extensive reach across the social media landscape. Beginning with the Round of 16, NASCAR fans will have access to a custom emoji for anytime they use #TheChase on Twitter. In addition, NASCAR will highlight its presence on Twitter, Vine and Periscope via a continued focus on compelling content and behind- the -scenes experiences. The Round of 12 will feature a Snapchat Live Story from the October 8 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway , and as The Chase field gets narrowed down to eight, NASCAR will go all in with social storytelling across all platforms, highlighted by innovations on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, freelance designers and original production will tell the story of the most epic championship battle in sports. The Ready. Set. Chase digital films, developed with Ogilvy & Mather New York, will be shot after each Chase round and recreate the on-track highlights as part of dramatic chases. Last month, Chase drivers began hitting the road for social and traditional media blitzes to promote the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kyle Busch kicked off Chase Across America in Boston and each week different drivers will crisscross the nation to make special appearances and build excitement for The Chase. NASCAR will crown its 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion at the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the fourth and final round of The Chase on Nov. 20 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Tickets for all Chase events in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are available at NASCAR.com/tickets . The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup kicks off with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR.com.
How the 'tire war' was won -- at North Wilkesboro
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later MORE: Classic Dale Jr. story: Angry dad, purple gas jug In the late 1980s, NASCAR's twofold quest for speed and success took a sharp turn as tire supplier Goodyear introduced the radial tire to the sanctioning body's premier series. Bias-ply tires had been the standard for stock car competition from the very beginning. But radial tire technology had vastly improved, and major open-wheel series had already made the swap to radials. Off the track, radials had also begun replacing bias-ply as the tires of choice for passenger vehicles. But the bias-ply tires still used in NASCAR provided teams with another tool in the toolbox, a way to "tune" the car's setup through the use of air pressures and tire stagger ( the variation in the circumference of the car's tires), something radial tire technology couldn't duplicate at the time. Goodyear officials were working toward implementing radials in NASCAR when the company got an unexpected push from Hoosier Tire Company in 1988. The competition between the two was fierce, and not without consequences. "Softer" tires produced by both brands generated higher speeds, but durability faltered. The "fall-off" in the product led to numerous tire failures and hard crashes. The following year, Goodyear officials rolled out radial race tires in an effort to provide both speed and durability. It was an ongoing project -- problems before the season-opening Daytona 500 forced the company to withdraw its product for that event. It wasn't until the spring race of 1989 at North Wilkesboro that Goodyear debuted the radial tire that officials felt was far more durable and could provide the necessary consistency and speed. "We were going to step through it," said Greg Stucker, head of race tire sales for Goodyear. "We were going to introduce them at the short tracks and then slowly step into the other race tracks." Rusty Wallace, driving for team owner Raymond Beadle, won the pole after the Blue Max team made the switch to Hoosiers. "We knew the Hoosiers were quick," Stucker said. "We also knew that the radials were extremely good over the long run. We went the first 100-some odd laps under green, which you don't do at North Wilkesboro very often. And Rusty got lapped, I think, about Lap 70." Dale Earnhardt won the race, thanks in part to the Richard Childress team's use of the Goodyear radials. "I still have that car," Childress said. "That's one of my favorite cars I have on display because I didn't re-do the body on it. I made the rest of them look real nice, but that car is still beat up; it has the Dale Earnhardt look still left on it. All the fenders beat in, the sides, and a set of the very first radial tires. "That's why we kept that one. It was the first win anybody had on radial tires. And everybody said 'That's going to be the end of Dale Earnhardt; he won't be able to run on them radial tires.' Well, we went out there and won the first race on them." The tire war eventually ended – Hoosier pulled out of the sport in mid-1989, returned for the ’94 season with its own radial tire, but departed at year's end due to a lack of sales. "It couldn't have worked out better for us to demonstrate how strong and how consistent the radial was," Stucker said. " The race really played into our hands pretty well. I think it was a good demonstration to everybody that this was a good package. "You know they say you have good days and bad days in racing? That was definitely one of the best days I've had at the race track. It was a good one." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Relive the last NSCS race at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway
Take a look back as Jeff Gordon wins the last race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in the Sprint Cup Series on September 29th, 1996.
Busch family, No. 18 team visit the White House
As part of his Sprint Cup championship duties, Kyle Busch had one more thing left on his to-do list: visit the White House. So that's exactly what he did on Wednesday with the entire No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and wife, Samantha. And no, Brexton wasn't in attendance, but President Obama gave him a nice, little shout-out. Follow along on the crew's trip to Washington, D.C. Thank you @POTUS for having the @mmschocolate team visit the @WhiteHouse today. pic.twitter.com/2Np9tGTSF1 — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) September 28, 2016 Snapchatting my way thru the White House if u wanna follow along! Samantha.Busch — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 The No.18 crew is on the ground in DC! Next stop: The @WhiteHouse . #NASCAR #CHAMP18NS pic.twitter.com/32HzSof8ob — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 We're at the @WhiteHouse with @KyleBusch @samanthabusch and the No.18 team! #NASCAR #CHAMP18N pic.twitter.com/k6zaRI6GWL — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 Tune in at 11am ET as @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch : https://t.co/rOls3Sio1L — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016 . RT @SaraBarnes8 : @SamanthaBusch what does one wear to the White House? pic.twitter.com/Y2JHJGMIaP — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS welcomes @KyleBusch , @SamanthaBusch and the @JoeGibbsRacing family to the @WhiteHouse ! pic.twitter.com/O0kqbP848C — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 "Tell Brexton I said hello." - @POTUS https://t.co/ptDTddyaES — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 Crispy lid! @KyleBusch gives @POTUS one of his helmets as a gift at today's visit to the @WhiteHouse . pic.twitter.com/NnUu6nEQyV — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch and the whole Number 18 team: https://t.co/MRvt4wLGCe — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016
Streak to the Finish picks for the Monster Mile
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and analyst Chris Rice give you the best Streak to the Finish picks heading into the NASCAR triple header weekend at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Thunder in the hills: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Paint peels and memories fade but the echoes of the past still ring off the hillsides here. Twenty years ago today, the checkered flag fell on the final NASCAR premier series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bob Flock won the first race, in 1949 and on dirt. Jeff Gordon won the last, in 1996 and on asphalt. The two races serve as bookends for a track that even after 20 years of silence serves as a reminder of the sport's colorful past. For 48 years and 93 races, NASCAR teams made the trek to the secluded .625-mile track in the Brushy Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. "It's one of the sport's most historic tracks, one that really helped put NASCAR on the map," car owner Richard Childress said. "A lot of people overlook that. But a lot of great things happened there. (Former series sponsor) R.J. Reynolds really supported it; Holly Farms back in the day … all those things were important to building our sport to what it is today." Built by Wilkes County resident Enoch Staley and partners Lawson Curry and Jack and Charlie Combs, North Wilkesboro Speedway was a venue unlike any other -- in part because the front straightaway ran slightly downhill and the backstretch uphill. It opened in 1947, two years before the debut of NASCAR's Strictly Stock Series, and hosted its first NASCAR premier series event in October of '49. The Wilkes 200 featured a 22-car field and was the final race of the inaugural season for NASCAR's new featured series. Flock won the race but it was Red Byron, finishing 16th, who captured the series' first championship. RELATED: Veterans share fond memories of track
Myers Family continues legacy at The Battle At The Beach
Gary, Burt and Jason Myers talk about their family legacy and hopes going in the first ever UNOH Battle At The Beach .
Chase by the Numbers: Dover
Here's all the info you need to know for the first cutoff race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, including some surprising statistics for two of the first-time Chase competitors.
From the Vault: Stewart conquers the Monster Mile
Relive Tony Stewart's amazing win at Dover International Speedway back in 2000 as he conquers the Monster Mile.