NASCAR Hall of Famer led 47 laps of Xfinity Series race in 2023 before a wire short ended his night early

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 21, 2024) – NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced today the he will once again compete in the Food City 300 (7:30 p.m., USA Network, PRN Radio) on Friday night, Sept. 20, under the lights at the high-banked all-concrete short track that races like a superspeedway.

Earnhardt Jr. will again drive the blue, yellow and white Hellmann’s No. 88 Chevy Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season finale race.

It’s the 20-year-anniversary of when the two-time Xfinity Series champ famously coined the phrase “It’s Bristol, Baby!” after winning the 2004 Night Race in the Cup Series at BMS. That year he also won the Xfinity Series race a night earlier to sweep both events in a single weekend. At the time, he was the first driver to accomplish that feat.

In last year’s Food City 300, Earnhardt Jr. brought the fans to their feet inside The Last Great Colosseum by leading and running in the top-five of the race for most of the night. A small electrical fire in his dash with 29 laps remaining in the race forced him to park his car early, and he settled for a 30th place finish.

“We had a positive wire short up in the top of the dash, and the casing on the wire melted down onto the leg brace and caught the foam in the leg brace and the cloth cover of the leg brace on fire, so it burnt the leg off my uniform,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It was like another lap, and I was probably gonna be blistered up. But, no burns on my leg. Just barely escaped. I was disappointed to have to get out. We were gonna run fourth or better.”

The Food City 300 will continue an important streak for Earnhardt Jr. He has run at least one Xfinity Series race each year since his retirement in 2017 to get his racing fix. Earnhardt, 49, says he feels competitive anytime he puts on his driving suit.

“I’ll run as long as I can,” Earnhardt said last year following his Bristol effort. “I like running one here and there. I think I still feel young. I overachieved tonight in my eyes in terms of how I ran, so I guess that gave me some confidence to try do to one here and there for a couple more years.”

Earnhardt Jr. has a solid Xfinity Series record at Bristol. In 13 career starts he has posted 10 top-10 finishes and 7 top-fives, which includes the memorable ’04 sweep. Prior to last year’s 30th place effort, his worst Xfinity finish at BMS was a 22nd place finish in his first attempt in 1997 where he started the race on the outside pole for local team owner Ed Whitaker.

“There was a tremendous atmosphere and buzz around Bristol Motor Speedway when Dale Jr. was leading the Food City 300 last fall,” said Jerry Caldwell, president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “We are thrilled that he is returning to take care of some unfinished business this September. He is such a legend in the sport and has meant so much to fans in our region. We can’t wait to see him back in action on the high-banks in his No. 88 Hellmann’s Chevy.”

In addition to Earnhardt’s return to the cockpit in the Food City 300, the race is also the regular season finale for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, so the stakes will be high for his four full-time team cars as they work to grab a Playoff spot. Those drivers include defending Food City 300 winner Justin Algaier (No. 7); Sam Mayer (No. 1); Sammy Smith (No. 8) and Brandon Jones (No. 9).

On Saturday evening, the crown jewel Bass Pro Shops Night Race will showcase the Cup Series Round of 16 Playoff elimination race (7:30 p.m., USA Network, PRN Radio) under the lights as tensions will be high. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will get the fun started on Thursday night, Sept. 19, with the running of the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics (8 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio). The ARCA Menards Series will open Thursday’s racing to make it a doubleheader night with the Bush’s Beans 200 (6 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio).

For tickets, please visit the BMS website or call the BMS Ticket Sales Center at (866) 415-4158.

About Bristol Motor Speedway
Forged amid the scenic mountains of Northeast Tennessee near the Virginia state line, Bristol Motor Speedway is The Last Great Colosseum, a versatile multi-use venue that hosts major auto races, football games, concerts and many other captivating events. The facility features a 0.533-mile concrete oval race track with 28-degree corner banking and 650-feet straightaways that offers racing in several NASCAR touring series, highlighted by two major Cup Series weekends each year. In 2020, the track also served as host of the prestigious NASCAR All-Star Race, and from 2021-2023 converted to a temporary dirt track each spring to take the Cup Series back to its racing roots. While at the track, fans are offered a unique viewing experience courtesy of Colossus TV, the world’s largest outdoor center-hung four-sided video screen with a 540,000-watt audio system. The adjacent quarter-mile dragstrip, Bristol Dragway, offers more than 50 events annually, including the marquee NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. The Thunder Valley Amphitheatre presented by Ballad Health transforms Bristol Dragway into a premier outdoor concert venue for the world’s greatest music performers. Three football games have kicked-off inside the oval, most notably the 2016 Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol, where border rivals the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech met before an NCAA-record crowd of 156,990. In existence since 1961, Bristol Motor Speedway was purchased in 1996 by Speedway Motorsports, a leading marketer and promoter of motorsports entertainment in the United States.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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