Earnhardt hopes to add a win to many Charlotte memories
concord, n.c. — Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first childhood memories of Cup Series racing come from Charlotte Motor Speedway.
He remembers watching his famous father Dale Sr. tear up the track. He ran plastic Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough cars down a nearby dusty hill. He recalls his days as a teenager, breaking into the track with buddies and hotwiring golf carts until they were chased off by approaching headlights.
It’s the place where he’d finish running an Xfinity race and return to the Campus Connection apartment complex across the street and drink beer with his buddies until late into the night.
It’s also the track where he ran his first NASCAR Cup Series race — and won the 2000 all-star race as a rookie.
But of all of the memories at Charlotte, one is strangely absent — a Cup Series points race victory.
Earnhardt, 42, would like to change that in his final season as a NASCAR driver before stepping away for retirement. In fact, he wants to win the Coca-Cola 600 more than any other race remaining on the docket.
“I would love that, to win the 600,” Earnhardt said. “It’s an iconic event.”
Earnhardt was a non-factor at the all-star race at CMS last weekend, but brought a totally different setup this week after consulting with teammate Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time Cup Series champion, and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus.
Earnhardt ran a little better in practice on Saturday after qualifying 19th.
Kevin Harvick will start alongside Kyle Busch on Sunday for NASCAR’s longest race, a grueling 400-lap run on a 11/2-mile oval.
Earnhardt’s best chance to win here came in 2011 when he ran out of gas on turn four of the final lap while leading the race.
Blaney wins Xfinity race
Ryan Blaney passed Kevin Harvick on a restart with three laps to go to win the Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Blaney went from last to first to earn his fifth career Xfinity race win and first in two years.
Harvick has won 46 career Xfinity Series races but has been shut out at Charlotte.
Blaney had qualified third for the race, but was sent to the back of the field to start the race because of unapproved tire changes to his No. 12 Ford. He raced to the lead early in Stage 2.
Austin Dillon finished third and Christopher Bell fourth.