On Saturday night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. participated in the South Carolina 400 at Florence Motor Speedway in a late model series race. Of course, any time that Dale Jr. gets on the track, it’s a big-time event. These late-model racers are some of the most competitive out there, and the NASCAR Hall of Famer showed out.
During the race, as many expected at one point or another, a big wreck caught about a fourth of the field. With 10 cars involved, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to just avoid contact and drive around the mess. I mean, if anyone in the field was going to masterfully avoid mayhem, it has to be Dale, right?
Matt Weaver of Racing America had a great photo from the press box. Apparently, the crowd lost it when they saw their favorite driver avoid getting caught up in the mess.
Local races like the South Carolina 400 are everything that is great with stock car racing and racing in general. It is at the grassroots level where the next stars of tomorrow will emerge, and it is a place where you could see a Dale Earnhardt Jr. show up, among other NASCAR drivers.
To have someone as important to the sport as Dale Jr. suit up and run some laps around the track is special. Imagine if you were playing basketball at your local tournament. Then, out of nowhere, Vince Carter shows up to the game and puts on a jersey to play.
While Dale Jr. didn’t finish where he would have liked, it was a fun event with some interesting results. Young drivers cut their teeth at these races and more than a few got to go bumper-to-bumper with a certified racing legend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ambassador For Stock Car Racing
While his work on the track over the years is worthy of a NASCAR Hall of Fame entry, it is what he has done for the sport as a whole that continues to make Dale Earnhardt Jr. an icon. When the sport needed him the most, after his father’s death, he was there. Since then, he’s done nothing but advocate for the expansion and improvement of NASCAR.
One thing that he has championed in recent years is iRacing. These simulations aren’t perfect, but they are really good. With the proliferation of simulators and other programs, more drivers will come up through the ranks in this nontraditional way.
Local tracks, online, Talladega – it doesn’t matter. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a racer and he’s going to always advocate for the sport and other racers. Can’t wait to see him back out on asphalt running laps again.