NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Returns To the Track in Xfinity Series This Weekend at Martinsville

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

After the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired from full-time racing. However, the NASCAR icon still races once a year in the Xfinity Series. And this weekend, under the lights of the Martinsville Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr will hop into his No. 88 Camaro for his annual contest in the Call 811 Before You Dig 250.

In a statement posted to their website, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell expressed his excitement for this weekend’s Xfinity Series race. “For our 75th anniversary, we are proud to welcome back NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. to join our celebration season on the track at Martinsville Speedway,” said Campbell. “Dale Jr. is one of the most popular and intense racers in the history of Martinsville, so we look forward to seeing him return to competition next season.”

Though Earnhardt is now a broadcaster, he’s never let go of the race car driver. The 15-time National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award winner finished in 14th place at last year’s race in the Richmond Raceway. This year, he’ll be looking to leave Martinsville with an even better record.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Talks Return to Martinsville Speedway

With only one race per year, why did Dale Earndhardt Jr. choose the Martinsville Speedway? Well, for the NASCAR legend, the answer is simple: a love for short tracks.

“I love short tracks. When it comes down to it, short track racing is what I love to do,” said Earnhardt Jr. on this week’s Dale Jr. Download podcast. “Races at Martinsville are always a blast, so I’m really excited about this opportunity. Unilever has been a great partner, and I’m thankful to them for allowing me to go race at Martinsville. I’m going to get in there in the thick of it and have some fun.”

Ahead of this weekend’s Call 811 Before You Dig 250, NASCAR fans had the unique opportunity to weigh in on Earnhardt’s paint scheme for the race. Earnhardt’s sponsor, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, asked fans to vote between three specially designed paint schemes put together by Dale and Ryan Williams, a graphic designer at JR Motorsports.

All three choices featured a fantastic design. However, the paint scheme with the most votes is going to look pretty incredible in this weekend’s night race.

The completion of his No. 88 Camaro had Dale Jr’s excitement at an all-time high. “I sat in my Xfinity Hellman’s Chevy today to make sure everything fits,” Earnhardt shared on Twitter. “I made some engine sounds, I turned the wheel, wrestling the car through a fictitious corner, I tilted my head against the imaginary g forces, I mashed the pedals and shifted the gears. Felt pretty good tbh.”