Racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently discussed his Friday NASCAR Hall of Fame induction, saying he didn’t know what to expect.
He doesn’t know how the night will go, but he said “he’ll go and enjoy” it. The 47-year-old will be honored with dirt track racer Red Farmer and the late NASCAR modified car champion Mike Stefanik.
“I’ve got a lot of friends and family that’ll be close and be around, so I don’t know what to expect,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. told NASCAR.com last week. “I hope that it’s a great experience for myself and Red and Mike’s family.”
The induction comes as NASCAR pushed back a class amid the pandemic. Junior said, “it’s nice to be able to sort of get this process going again for the next round of guys and girls to get inducted and start getting that process going again.”
The former NASCAR driver joins his father and inaugural inductee Dale Earnhardt in the racing hall in Charlotte, N.C. Friday’s induction will be (8 p.m. ET) live on the Peacock network.
Junior Destined To NASCAR In Immortality
The driver and current NBC Sports racing commentator won the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver Award 15 times consecutively during his full-time career. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has raced in NASCAR now for 19 years total.
In June 2020, voters put the North Carolina native on 76-percent of the ballots.
Junior won 26 times in NASCAR’s top division with two Daytona 500 victories. He was a two-time Xfinity Series champion.
Joining Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the late Stefanik, a nine-time Modified Tour champion and Busch North Series racer. The man died in a plane crash in 2019.
Many already consider Farmer, an 89-year-old racer from Tennessee, one of racing’s best drivers. In 1998, NASCAR named him one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in its history. He’s already in five halls of fame, including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
On another note, Farmer survived the helicopter crash that killed former NASCAR driver Davey Allison in 1993. The man had a broken collarbone and fractured ribs from the impact but recovered.
ESPN’s Smith Weighs In On Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Induction
Smith, a founder of Outsider.com, recently talked about Earnhardt Jr. on ESPN.
Smith said the racer “feeds off of affirmation.” The commentator talked about Dale Earnhardt Jr. needing support from his team and his father growing up (and got it before Senior’s death in 2001). The commentator also gets support and motivation from his wife (Amy) right now.
“To be revered this way, by the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting committee, many of whom are heroes and peers of his, friends of his and people he considers as heroes, (was touching),” Smith said.
The ESPN commentator said he’s never seen Earnhardt Jr. cry but did so in light of the Hall of Fame class announcement. Smith said emotion was raw because “that’s what it means to him.”
Smith finished his thoughts, saying that Earnhardt Jr. carried the sport after his father’s on-track Daytona death in 2001. NASCAR was in “its darkest hour,” and Smith felt that Earnhardt Jr. “put the sport on his shoulders, and he carried it.”