The Bank of America 500 on October 8 looks like Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. So fans at Earnhardt’s home track will get a memento for every two tickets purchased.
The track has created a Dale Jr. bobblehead, and unlike many of these trinkets, it actually looks like Dale Jr., who has announced his retirement from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series following this season.
Earnhardt has been voted by fans NASCAR’s most popular driver at the conclusion of 14 seasons, including 2016, when he missed about half the schedule with concussion symptoms.
Earnhardt has never won a points race at Charlotte in 34 starts. (He has won the All-Star race). Earnhardt was in the lead on the final lap of the May race in 2011, only to run out of gas, allowing Kevin Harvick to win that Coca-Cola 600. Earnhardt coasted to a seventh-place finish in that race.
Earnhardt’s best finishes at Charlotte were third place in the fall race in 2004 and the spring race in 2015.
For the first time since 2002, the October date at Charlotte will be a day race, with a scheduled 2 p.m. start. Earnhardt, who has yet to win this season, believes his chances for a win will improve under day conditions at Charlotte, when the surface should be hotter and slicker and the driving groove wider.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell