Scott Fowler

Why does the Coca-Cola 600 mean so much to Dale Earnhardt Jr and his family?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks at a press conference Talladega Superspeedway in May.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks at a press conference Talladega Superspeedway in May. AP

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that if he were to win only one race in his final regular season as a Cup driver, he would want it to be the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has never won that particular race, one of NASCAR’s most iconic.

“I grew up around here,” Earnhardt said by way of explaining why the 600 is so important to him. “My granddaddy Robert Gee’s house was 200 yards off the Turn 1 corner (in a home Darrell Waltrip now owns). So I spent a lot of time in the area as a kid. This was the home track for Dad, and the home track for me.”

Earnhardt, in fact, told a story last week about breaking into Charlotte Motor Speedway occasionally about 20 years ago with some of his friends, hot-wiring golf carts and then riding them all over the infield. When they saw headlights heading toward them, they would all scatter. So he kind of drove under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway long before CMS was holding official night races there.

More from Scott Fowler’s one-on-one with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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