|Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Sept. 1, at 5:20 p.m. local time in the Darlington Raceway media center.
AT DARLINGTON: While Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yet to score a victory at Darlington Raceway, he has come close – finishing in the runner-up spot in 2014, leading five of the final seven laps before getting passed for the win. In each of his last three trips (2013-2015) to the 1.366-mile oval, Earnhardt has recorded top-10 finishes.
DARLINGTON STATS: The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Throwback Chevrolet SS has been running at the finish of 20 of the 21 races (95.2 percent) he has entered at Darlington. He’s also completed 7,208 of 7,312 laps (98.6 percent) in his 21 starts. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Earnhardt ranks fourth in average running position (11.552), fifth in green-flag passes with 665 and fifth in quality passes with 352 among active competitors. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions.
THROWBACK SCHEME: Returning to Darlington each year allows the drivers to pay homage to moments in history that have helped shape the sport of NASCAR. Earnhardt is doing just that with his 2017 throwback Nationwide design for Darlington Raceway’s annual Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. The No. 88 Chevy features Earnhardt’s longtime sponsor, Nationwide, with a tribute to the ACDelco car he drove in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. For the veteran driver, the scheme is very personal and represents a pivotal moment in his career. Driving that scheme in 1998 and 1999, Earnhardt won 13 races and back-to-back XFINITY Series championships in his first two years in full-time series competition. Prior to that, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native wasn’t sure if he would even be in racing the next season, let alone in 20 years; he had lost his sponsor on his Late Model ride the season before and was left searching for anything he could drive.
EVENT HONORING DALE SR.: As part of its throwback weekend, celebrating the 1985-89 era of the sport, Darlington Raceway will honor Dale Earnhardt Sr. and the 30th anniversary of his 1987 Southern 500 victory. On Saturday night, Sept. 2, the track will host “An Evening Honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr.,” which will feature a panel of personalities talking about the seven-time NASCAR champion, including children Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Kerry Earnhardt, and longtime team owner Richard Childress. “An Evening Honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr.” will take place in the driver’s meeting tent in the Cale Yarborough Cup Series garage from 7:30 to 9 p.m. local time following the conclusion of the Southern 500 parade. NBC lead announcer Rick Allen will serve as emcee for the event. Fans have the opportunity to purchase an admission ticket to the event for $87, which includes two beverage coupons, light hors d’oeuvres and one 1:24-scale Earnhardt Jr. throwback No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS diecast. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com or calling 843-395-8802, while supplies last. A grandstand ticket or infield admission to Sunday’s Southern 500 is required for purchase.
EARNHARDT TOWERS: In celebrating the success of Earnhardt Sr. and honoring Earnhardt Jr. in his final NASCAR Cup Series Southern 500 start, Darlington Raceway is dedicating its Turn 3 suite towers in their names, respectively. Earnhardt Towers will feature an assortment of graphics that depict memorable moments of Earnhardt Sr. and Earnhardt Jr., featured on the backside of each tower. The Earnhardt Towers name will also be proudly displayed on the front of the towers facing the track. As part of the dedication, Darlington Raceway will hold a special ceremony the morning of Friday, Sept. 1, featuring track president Kerry Tharp and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, co-owner of JR Motorsports and daughter of Earnhardt Sr.