Colour Dale Jr. hopeful for Darlington
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. first saw the blue and white No. 3 car with his name on it, he thought it was a joke.
Before the 1997 season, Dale Earnhardt Sr. told his son he’d be running in NASCAR’s Busch Series. In eight races, Earnhardt Jr. earned one top-10 finish and finished ranked 47th in the series. He didn’t hear from any sponsors after the season.
Meanwhile, Earnhardt Sr. was looking for someone to replace Steve Park. The son figured he wasn’t a candidate. So, when Earnhardt Jr. walked into the garage in early January 1998 and saw his name atop the blue No. 3 car with white trim, “I honestly thought they were trying to play a prank on me,” he said.
They weren’t. Earnhardt won 13 races and two championships with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., in 1998-99 before making the full-time jump to the Cup Series in 2000. And this weekend, in what will likely be his last race at Darlington, he’ll try to recreate the magic of those two years with the same blue body and white trim.
“It’s a paint scheme — and a part of my career — that I really hold dear,” he said. Earnhardt revealed the throwback paint scheme for his No. 88 car at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday, just under seven weeks before NASCAR will celebrate the 1985-89 era of racing in the third year of its “throwback” campaign at Darlington.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses with a die cast of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet that he will drive in his final Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.