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.
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."
Roush Fenway, Fastenal agree to extend deal
CONCORD, N.C. -- Roush Fenway Racing has entered a multi-year partnership extension with primary partner the Fastenal Company that will continue Fastenal's position as the anchor partner of the No. 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . As part of the extension, Fastenal will also increase the number of its primary races in 2017 and beyond. "We are really excited to announce that Fastenal will remain the anchor partner of the No. 17 team for years to come," said driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . "Fastenal is a first-class organization with values that align completely with myself and this race team. "We've seen a lot of improvement across the board this year," added Stenhouse. "We are very happy that Fastenal will continue to be a part of the momentum at Roush Fenway. There has been a lot of hard work and effort put into this team and our goal and expectation is to reward Fastenal with a trip to victory lane and the Chase in the near future." Fastenal is currently in its fifth season as a primary partner in Roush Fenway's Sprint Cup stable, and its second full season as the anchor partner on Stenhouse's No. 17 Ford Fusion. "To have a company of the caliber of Fastenal recognize the long-term value of a partnership with Roush Fenway, Ricky and the No. 17 team is gratifying for our entire organization," said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. "During our relationship, Fastenal has created and implemented a robust and impactful motorsports marketing program, and we are thrilled to have Fastenal continue to be a key part of the Roush Fenway family now and in the future." Fastenal, which boasts 2,600 stores nationwide, first joined Roush Fenway as a primary partner in 2010 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "We are truly looking forward to continuing our partnership with Roush Fenway Racing as the anchor sponsor of the No. 17," said Fastenal President and CEO Dan Florness. "Ricky has done an excellent job representing our brand -- both on and off the track -- and we are extremely proud of the relationship we have built with Ricky, Jack Roush and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing ." "Extending our partnership as the anchor sponsor of the No. 17 reflects our belief in Roush Fenway Racing and Ricky Stenhouse," said Florness. "The NASCAR program has helped us grow our business and excite our employees, and we feel a strong connection with the NASCAR community and fan base."
Five legends unveiled as 2017 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class
RELATED: See all of the nominees DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 25, 2016) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The five-person group -- the eighth since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 -- consists of Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. In addition, NASCAR announced that Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2017 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton announced the class and Landmark Award winner, respectively, this evening in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's "Great Hall." The Class of 2017 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the third year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion ( Kyle Busch ). In all, 54 votes were cast, with four additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates, Waddell Wilson and Ken Squier). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes. Voting was as follows: Benny Parsons (85%), Rick Hendrick (62%), Mark Martin (57%), Raymond Parks (53%) and Richard Childress (43%). The next top vote-getters were Robert Yates, Red Byron and Alan Kulwicki. Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Larry Phillips. The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Ron Hornaday Jr ., Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Larry Phillips, Jack Roush, Ricky Rudd, Ken Squier, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates. Nominees for the Landmark Award included Earles, Janet Guthrie, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. Class of 2017 Inductees: Richard Childress Long before he became one of the preeminent car owners in NASCAR history, Richard Childress was a race car driver with limited means. Childress, the consummate self-made racer, was respectable behind the wheel. Between 1969-81 he had six top-five finishes and 76 top 10s in 285 starts, finishing fifth in the NASCAR premier series standings in 1975. Having formed Richard Childress Racing in 1972, Childress retired from driving in 1981. He owned the cars that NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt drove to six championships and 67 wins between 1984-2000. In addition to Earnhardt’s championships, Childress drivers have given him five others. Childress was the first NASCAR owner to win owner championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series, and his 11 owner titles are second all-time. Childress also owned the vehicles driven by NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champions Clint Bowyer (2008) and Austin Dillon (2013), as the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver champion Austin Dillon . Rick Hendrick The founder and owner of Hendrick Motorsports , Rick Hendrick’s organization is recognized as one of NASCAR’s most successful. Hendrick Motorsports owns an all-time record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles -- six with Jimmie Johnson , four with Jeff Gordon and one with NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte . Hendrick also has 14 total NASCAR national series owner championships, most in NASCAR history. Gordon and Labonte combined to win four consecutive titles from 1995-98. In 2010, Johnson won a record-extending fifth consecutive championship. Hendrick also owned the car driven by 2003 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champion Brian Vickers . Hendrick’s 242 owner wins in the premier series rank second all-time. Mark Martin He is often described as the "greatest driver to never to win a championship," but Mark Martin 's legendary career is so much more than that. He came incredibly close to that elusive title many times -- finishing second in the championship standings five times. Over the course of his 31-year premier series career, Martin compiled 40 wins (17th all time) and 56 poles (seventh all time). Martin saw success at every level of NASCAR. He won 49 times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, holding the series wins record for 14 years. He retired with 96 wins across NASCAR’s three national series, seventh on the all-time list. In 1998, Martin was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Raymond Parks Raymond Parks is one of stock-car racing’s earliest -- and most successful -- team owners. Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Parks began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall. His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Red Byron won the first NASCAR title (modified, 1948) and first premier series title (1949) in a Parks-owned car. Parks’ team produced two premier series wins, two poles, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 events. Benny Parsons Benny Parsons won the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship and could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport’s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn’t able to reach Victory Lane. He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times -- a 54 percent ratio. One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500 . He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Parsons also was known as a voice of the sport making a seamless transition to television following his NASCAR career. He was a commentator for NBC and TNT until his passing in 2007, at the age of 65. Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR: H. Clay Earles One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR's development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series’ inception in 1949. The speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947 -- three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready. In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a "different" type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks, a tradition that continues today.
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 among 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.
Bruce, Cain reveal NASCAR Hall of Fame ballots
RELATED: Photos of Voting Day, inductees NASCAR.com was privileged to have two ballots cast as part of NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day on Wednesday. Senior writers Kenny Bruce and Holly Cain each submitted their five nominations for induction in the Class of 2017 and a vote for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. A spirited discussion and voting process created one of the most intriguing classes in the stock-car shrine's history with Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons selected as Hall of Fame members. Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles received the Landmark Award. Here are Holly's and Kenny's ballots cast Wednesday with their choices for induction: Kenny Bruce Ron Hornaday Jr . No one dominated NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series like Hornaday, the only four-time series champ. He remains the leader in career wins, top-five and top-10 finishes in Truck Series history. Mark Martin. The working man's racer; Martin finished second in the premier series points battle five times and earned 40 wins in 882 career starts. His XFINITY Series record wasn't too shabby, either. Benny Parsons. Folks who knew Benny the Broadcaster might not know just how talented Parsons was behind the wheel of a race car. The 1973 premier series champion, Parsons won 21 times, including victories in the Daytona 500 (1975) and World 600 ('80). Raymond Parks. The Atlanta-based businessman not only provided much-needed financial assistance as the newly formed NASCAR governing body got up and running, but Parks was a successful car owner as well. His career as an owner peaked in 1949 when driver Red Byron won NASCAR's first Strictly Stock crown. A year earlier, Byron had won the group's first Modified title in a Parks-backed entry. Robert Yates. As an engine builder, Yates helped power Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough to 77 victories. As a car owner, his drivers won three Daytona 500 titles, 57 races and 48 poles. Landmark Award H. Clay Earles. His Martinsville Speedway was there from the beginning (actually before NASCAR was formed) and it remains a popular stop today as one of three short tracks on the premier series schedule. Keeping up with the changing landscape of the sport wasn't easy, and no one did it better than Mr. Earles. Holly Cain These are the Hall of Fame votes I considered the most worthy and timely, considering a ballot of 20 of the sport's most deserving people. I tried to decide on a well-balanced group of drivers, owners and technical people and considered time on the ballot, too. Some I did not vote for this year I feel like will be definite choices in the upcoming Hall of Fame votes. Red Byron. NASCAR's first champion should be in its Hall of Fame for historic reasons. He won NASCAR's very first race on Daytona Beach in 1948, won NASCAR's first "season" championship and then its first Strictly Stock title, which is the modern era Sprint Cup crown. Raymond Parks . He owned the first championship car driven by Red Byron and for many of the same reasons Bryon needs to be in the Hall, so does Parks. Even after the two early titles he fielded cars for greats such as Bob and Fonty Flock. He is the sport's heritage, its beginning. Benny Parsons . Many current NASCAR fans know Benny from his ease and skill behind the television microphone and camera once he retired from driving a race car, but he was an amazing competitor, too, winning NASCAR's two biggest trophies -- the 1973 Cup championship and the 1975 Daytona 500 . Perhaps most amazingly, he finished among the top 10 in 54 percent of the races he ran. Waddell Wilson. It is impressive Wilson was so successful both as an engine builder and a crew chief. He built the motors that David Pearson and Benny Parsons drove to titles and as a crew chief led Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough (twice) to Daytona 500 wins. He built the first engine that broke 200 mph -- driven by Parsons in qualifying for the 1982 Winston 500. Robert Yates. This is another example of the ultimate in successful multi-tasking. Similar to Wilson, he built championship-quality engines (1983 with Bobby Allison) and then Yates owned a championship team, fielding the car with which Dale Jarrett won a title in 1999. He owns three Daytona 500 wins as part of a 57-win legacy as a team owner and won 77 races as an engine builder. Landmark Award Ralph Seagraves. This was a tough category. My selection was based on his contribution really being a turning point for the entire sport. Under Seagraves' leadership, RJ Reynolds provided top-dollar, high-promotion sponsorship of the sport that lasted for more than 30 years. It thrust NASCAR into another stratosphere as far as the American sports landscape was concerned and absolutely created a foundation that is still enjoyed today.
Past and present: Drive for Diversity program growing
NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program has a lot to celebrate recently with its former members blazing the tracks in all three NASCAR national series, and also with its current members showing early promise. D4D is a development program that is in its 12th year and is aimed toward finding primarily young, diverse and female drivers and pit crew members. Through Rev Racing, which like NASCAR is also sponsored by Goodyear and Sunoco, those involved receive one-on-one training and year-round competition experience. The race weekend at Dover International Speedway displayed the depth -- and star power -- of former drivers who went through the Drive for Diversity initiative. Three of Drive for Diversity's former members earned the runner-up spot in the Sprint Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series races at the 1-mile oval -- Kyle Larson , Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daniel Suarez , respectively. The six members of the 2016 class hope to have a similar experience someday. Learn more about 2016's six members and the upcoming Drive for Diversity pit crew combine below.
NASCAR reacts to 2017 Hall of Fame inductees
Congrats to all of these guys. Deserving class. Should be a fun induction ceremony! https://t.co/YGodV9iHgt — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 26, 2016 So proud of @Rchildress3 on being inducted into the #NASCARHOF #NASCARHall ! What an honor for my grandfather. — Austin Dillon (@austindillon3) May 25, 2016 Congratulations @Rchildress3 Class of 2017 Inductee @NASCARHall #NASCARHOF — Ryan Newman (@RyanJNewman) May 25, 2016 Proud to have our teammate Benny Parsons announced as a member of the #NASCARHOF Class of 2017! pic.twitter.com/U0G0YrWs6j — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) May 25, 2016 Congrats @markmartin ! #NASCARHOF — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) May 25, 2016 I am so happy for my grandfather true legend of our sport what an awesome moment! So happy he is gonna be in the @NASCARHall ! #NASCAR #HOF — Ty Dillon (@tydillon) May 25, 2016 Congrats to #NASCARHOF class of 2017! All very deserving. Very proud of @TeamHendrick owner Rick Hendrick. https://t.co/eDBrtu7TYV — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) May 25, 2016 Congrats @RickHendrick on HOF induction. Very Deserving Bossman! — Kelley Earnhardt (@EarnhardtKelley) May 25, 2016 Congratulations to all inductees. #NASCARHOF https://t.co/TTZFronGpt — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) May 25, 2016
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."