If NASCAR tracks have personalities, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says Darlington is the most like his legendary father.
In an interview posted April 4, Earnhardt says Darlington Raceway in South Carolina is the most mentally and physically taxing in the sport.
“It’s Dale Earnhardt of race tracks. It’s the Intimidator,” Earnhardt Jr. said, referring to his father’s nickname.
“People ask me why dad liked the place so much and I think that it’s because he admired it being so similar to him. It really did intimidate drivers.”
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Earnhardt says he was even intimidated by the track as a child, “nervous” at the thought of competing there one day. Darlington Raceway was established in 1950 and has hosted some of the best drivers in NASCAR, including Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Jeff Gordon and, of course, Dale Earnhardt.
“The toughest challenge...it’s so narrow. You run right against the wall, lap after lap. The tires wear out, and the car is slipping and sliding around. Trying to keep that car off the fence, all race long, is too mentally challenging, aside from how physical the race is. It’s really tough mentally.”
Track officials apparently found Earnhardt’s comments to be flattering, and tweeted about the interview on Tuesday.
In case Charlotte NASCAR fans are wondering about Charlotte Motor Speedway’s reputation, it is apparently called the “meanest track” in NASCAR. A marketing campaign from a decade ago dubbed it “The Beast of the Southeast.”