|Nominated for deletion
Regards, -- NuclearVacuum 22:28, June 26, 2017 (UTC)
Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (b. April 29th, 1951) is a retired NASCAR driver who last drove full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2003. Being the only driver to have eight championships, he is called one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history with 107 wins, as well as earning the nicknames The Intimidator, for his driving style, and The Survivor, for all the wrecks he has survived with the most serious injury being broken bones, as well as his upbringing and tough life pre-NASCAR success.
Before 2001Earnhardt was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina in 1951 to parents Ralph Earnhardt and Martha. His father was a factory worker, and Friday night dirt track racer, and discouraged Dale from racing. Ralph died of a heart attack in 1973, and made Dale question his whole racing career for a few months, before coming back to racing. Dale eventually made it to the NASCAR level, with the help of Humpy Wheeler, and irritating NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip in the process. He has also lost a few friends to NASCAR accidents. Neil Bonnett, Davey Allison, and Alan Kulwicki are a few of those lost, although Kulwicki and Davey were lost in airplane crashes.
Dale Earnhardt has escaped multiple near fatal wrecks, the most famous being the 2001 Daytona 500 wreck. The 2001 Daytona 500 already had a giant wreck at halfway that took out drivers, Tony Stewart (airborne, and rolling over the backstretch) and Jeff Gordon, among other drivers. on the last lap, Earnhardt was blocking for his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and friend Michael Waltrip. Going into Turn 4 on the last lap, Sterling Marlin was trying to pass Earnhardt, and hooked his car in the right rear panel, resulting in his car spinning in front of the whole field, and being hit by five different cars. The drivers that hit Dale were Sterling Marlin, Jeremy Mayfield, Rusty Wallace, Joe Nemechek and Ken Schrader. Dale's car ended up in the Turn 4 infield with extensive damage, including the whole front torn away, and almost no sheet metal left. Dale, having the wind knocked out of him, needed oxygen, but he was fine, as was everyone else involved.
Waltrip ended up winning the race, with Jr. finishing 2nd, Ricky Rudd in 3rd, Mike Wallace in 4th, and Bobby Hamilton in 5th. Dale, when asked in victory lane celebrating with Waltrip, said "Man, I'm glad he hooked me in the right, I felt the seat belts break the second I got hit the 5th time, If he had hit me in the left ... I may not be here talking to ya, and celebrating with my friend". Earnhardt Sr later spoke out against the lack of requiring the HANS device in NASCAR. "If I had hit that wall with how fast I was going, I probably would have been been hurt bad." Only a few weeks later, Dale Sr went on to win a caution-free race at Talladega Superspeedway, giving him 11 super speedway wins. He won the 2001 championship over Jeff Gordon. His All-Star Race scheme was a white car. He got a total of 13 wins that year.
The 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series found Dale Earnhardt winning the Budweiser Shootout, and the Daytona 500 for the second time of his career. Dale also won the 2002 July Pocono race, although the event was marked by tragedy. On the very first lap, DEI driver Steve Park lost his life in a wreck which started when Rusty Wallace slightly tapped his car. The wreck had him slide into the wall head on at full speed and violently flipped over teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Jr. went over to Park's car to try and assist, but the second he got there, he ran towards the medics with the universal sign of Hurry. In Victory Lane afterwards, pit reporter Dave Burns announced that Park had succumbed to his injuries, while Sr said in tears, "This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen, Steve should be here, I warned NASCAR about the head on hits, and they didn't listen. Now they have blood on their hands". After this event, NASCAR launched a full investigation, and required the HANS device for the following race, out of caution, yet kept the open helmets. Four weeks after the wreck, NASCAR announced it was a lack of neck support and the open helmet that resulted in the fatality, and they were mandating the HANS device as of the next race in Bristol. The rest of the season was great for Earnhardt, winning ten more races, and finishing up 10th in points. At the last race of the 2002 season, Dale Earnhardt Sr announced he was retiring from full time driving after the 2003 season. His All-Star Race scheme was what would be a reverse of his 2003 scheme, and Dale also drove several schemes that he ran before in his career. For example, his Daytona 500 scheme was his 1995 silver car.
The 2003 season was another great year for Sr, with seven wins (including the Daytona 500) to pass David Pearson in wins, 22 top fives, and 30 top 15 finishes. His All-Star Race scheme was a car inspired by his 1979 scheme. In Dale's last race, in which he drove a scheme similar to an unused Goodwrench scheme designed in 1987 that he also ran in Rockingham, he started 25th, but led the pace laps as the pace car. His final race had him leading for 30 laps, but finished 29th, five laps down, after a wreck with 15 laps to go. Dale was racing for 5th place, when Kurt Busch bumped into his right rear corner, and sent him spinning. At the last moment, his car went airborne, and flipped over several times, with damage. His crew was able to get his car back onto the track for the final lap, but he finished 25th, 5 laps down. After this finish, The grandstand went wild, when the damaged 3 car took its final lap around Homestead, much like Richard Petty's final race. In his post race interview with NBC's Marty Snider, Dale said, visibly choked up with tears, "All these years, driving for the same sponsor and team. I wanna thank Richard (Childress) for the opportunity he gave me, as well as Humpy Wheeler, and everyone else. I wanna thank Goodwrench for sticking with me even through the bad years, and want to say to Jeff Gordon: You are the face of the sport now, Don't let me down boy". Dale finished the year 10th in points and was honored at the Banquet in New York for his illustrious NASCAR career, and won Driver of the Year, unseating Bill Elliott. Dale then went on to manage Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated, with drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Michael Waltrip, and a driver signed away from RCR, Kevin Harvick. As for Dale's final car, it went to the DEI museum. The #30 got a new driver named Jim Inglebright, and DEI bought the #3 team from RCR, leading RCR to cut back to two cars.
In 2004 Dale became one of the few owners to be involved in an on track incident. Driver Rusty Wallace wrecked Kevin Harvick on the halfway lap at Daytona, spinning him in front of the entire field. Amazingly, everyone avoided Harvick's out of control car. Dale then went over to Rusty's pit stall to wait for him, and got into a fistfight with Rusty. "He wrecked my driver in a dangerous manner, I thought after Adam, Tony, and John, he would have some sense. I guess I was wrong". Rusty had no comment. Dale was later fined $100,000 and put on probation until December 31st, 2004. Dale gave an interview that year, and surprised many people with an answer to a question asked by Marty Smith. Marty asked, "Dale, people still ask you about the 2001 Daytona wreck where your seat belt snapped. What was different about this wreck" Dale replied, "You see, I had some dreams about the 2001 Daytona 500 after it happened. One of them was, it was the final lap, but Mikey was leading the race with Jr. in second. Coming into the last turn, Sterling bumped into my right rear, which sent me into the wall at full speed. Mikey went on to win the race, but my car had stopped in the Turn 4 grass. I saw Kenny come over to the car and scream for help. The scene then faded to Mike Helton saying "We Lost Dale Earnhardt in Turn 4 of the final lap", I woke up at that moment screaming." Later that year, Dale got back behind the wheel for two races when his driver and son Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was seriously burned in a sports car race that year. Earnhardt finished 20th in both starts. 2004 had Kevin Harvick winning three races, including the July Daytona race, and the season finale at Homestead. Michael Waltrip finished the year with one win at Talladega, amazingly winning on his roof after his car got airborne 500 feet from the start finish line. After Jr. got back into the car, he finished 23rd in points with no wins, obviously still suffering from his burns.
In 2005, NASCAR was thinking about leaving Rockingham, but Dale was livid. "NASCAR better not do this, they would be sellin' the fans out for the money on the dang mile and a half track". NASCAR kept both Rockingham races.
At the 2005 Daytona Speedweeks, it was announced that DEI was looking at signing Matt Kenseth away from Roush Racing for a fourth team, sponsored by DeWalt tools. Kenseth signed the week before the Budweiser Shootout, giving DEI four top quality drivers under their roof. (Kenseth, Jr., Harvick, Waltrip). Carl Edwards drove the #17, and Jeff Burton stayed at the #99, while Clint Bowyer drove the #31 for 2006, Sterling Marlin drove the #07, Dave Blaney went to Dirt, and more changes came. The 2005 Daytona 500 was actually the first NASCAR race with the new rule of the Green White Checkered finish rule, meaning the race would end under yellow with multiple attempts. Dale Jarrett won the pole for the 500, but never led a lap, as Jimmie Johnson swiftly took over the lead. Johnson then lost control on Turn 4 of the 10th lap, spun, and collected 12 cars, including Matt Kenseth. Matt Kenseth afterwards said in an interview "Nothing against Johnson, But that was a really stupid move running that high in Turn 4 and expecting to make it through." Jeff Gordon took the lead from a pit cycle, and led from lap 12 to lap 140 with no contest. On lap 150 however, Jimmie Johnson spun out again, but tagged Scott Riggs in the right rear, sending him rolling down the backstretch grass, and ending up 20 feet from Lake Lloyd. Riggs became the first driver in over 20 years to leave the Daytona racing surface as the result of a wreck. Ten other cars were collected, turning Turn 3 into the "Junkyard corner". Jeff Gordon ended up winning the race after Terry Labonte blew a motor on the white flag lap, leading Dale Jr., Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace, Kyle Petty, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards (Rookie), and Kasey Kahne. 2005 had DEI end the season with ten wins (five for Jr., three for Harvick, one for Waltrip, and one for Kenseth). Kurt Busch won the championship in the second year of the Chase for the Cup, with Jeff Gordon finishing second, and Jimmie Johnson finishing third. DEI had two drivers in the Chase (Harvick finished 5th, and Dale Jr finished 8th). Kenseth and Waltrip missed the Chase, but ran tough for the final race of the year.
At the start of 2006, DEI announced a fifth team for Martin Truex, Jr. The car had the Bass Pro Shops and Pizza Hut sponsorship, and was numbered #81. In the biggest upset in NASCAR history, Kirk Shelmerdine, with the help of the DEI drivers, won the Daytona 500. That car made the remaining restrictor plate races and later went to the RCR Museum. Because Michael Waltrip was in the #15, Paul Menard had to leave DEI for RCR in the #27 Menard's Chevy in a five-year deal. Johnson won his first championship in 2006.
Jeremy Mayfield went to Robert Yates Racing in the #88 Snickers Ford. Yates was persuaded by Dale to sign Mayfield. Everything remained the same at DEI. Waltrip won the Daytona 500 after taking the last lap. The Car of Tomorrow was introduced, and Dale said, "What was NASCAR thinking when this abomination of a car even made it out of the drawing board?! I hope this car fails." Jeff Gordon won the 2007 championship. DEI ended the season with 14 wins together. Sterling Marlin retired after 2007, and the #07 became the #33 for 2008 with David Stremme and Holiday Inn.
Kyle Busch left Hendrick for Joe Gibbs, and so the #5 was taken by Terry Labonte, who reunited with the team for a year before calling retirement. Mark Martin went to a fifth Hendrick car, the #84, for a year as well. The 2008 Daytona 500 was won by Kevin Harvick, about ten years after Dale Earnhardt won the event. The champion was Carl Edwards, who won nine races. Inglebright retired after 2008, and the #30 shut down.
Kurt Busch left Penske for Yates and Sam Hornish, Jr. replaced him, and thus, the #77 team was sold to Rusty Wallace Racing to run part time with Steve Wallace. Bobby Labonte rejoined Joe Gibbs Racing in the #20. At DEI, nothing changed. Michael Waltrip won the Daytona 500 in a rain delay. Brad Keselowski won Talladega after spinning Carl Edwards on the last lap. In the Chase, Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were strong, but not strong enough to win the title. 50 year old Mark Martin won the 2009 championship and decided to retire on top. His replacement was Brad Keselowski.
Joey Logano went to Penske Racing. Logano was to drive for Gibbs, but a conflict of interest occurred between Logano and Gibbs, so Logano went to the #12, renumbered to #22. Brad Keselowski went full time in the #5. At DEI, nothing changed, and Jimmie Johnson won the championship after a miscue from the mostly dominant Denny Hamlin.
2011 had an attempted merger between DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing, which ultimately fell apart. DEI driver Matt Kenseth finished third in the battle for the championship that eventually went to Tony Stewart in the then-closest championship in the 60 year history of NASCAR. Carl Edwards finished second. Michael Waltrip also ran his final race as a driver in the Sprint Cup series. He finished 16th in his final race in a throwback car to his 2001 Daytona 500 winning car. Landon Cassill signed with Hendrick to drive the #25 National Guard Chevy, which he still does to this day. Dale Earnhardt successfully rallied to put Nazareth, Iowa, and North Wilkesboro on the schedule. Iowa replaced the first Phoenix race, North Wilkesboro replaced the second Texas race, and Nazareth replaced the second Pocono race. Bobby Labonte retired after 2011 to run the Truck Series. Clint Bowyer replaced him. Steve Wallace took the #77 full time for Rusty Wallace Racing in 2012.
2012 started off with DEI in a bit of a controversy. After Michael Waltrip's retirement in 2011, DEI struggled to find a replacement driver, but eventually landed Kyle Busch, recently let go from Joe Gibbs Racing after an incident with Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck Series that lost the sponsorship of M&Ms from his final two races with JGR. Kyle Busch was fired from his #18 car, and sat out the last two races of 2011. Michael McDowell replaced him for those two races. Brian Vickers replaced him in 2012 and onwards. Waltrip decided to start a race team in the Truck Series in partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle Busch was announced on January 15th, 2012 to be the new driver of the #15 KFC/Best Western car. "Kyle
has a lot of talent behind a wheel, he just needs the right team," Dale said in an interview. In the Budweiser Shootout, Kyle Busch intentionally plowed into the side of Jeff Gordon, the wreck causing Gordon's car to barrel roll down the backstretch of Daytona International raceway. Gordon was fine, but he was mad. "Whose bright idea was it to put that #$%$ driver in the 15 car? He's one of the worst drivers active, and I can't believe he used to be my teammate," Gordon was quoted as saying after being checked out of the infield care center. Kyle Busch ended the shootout in the 10th place, and not happy. Dale was seen going over to the 15 car to talk to Kyle, but Kyle walked away from him. Dale grabbed his shoulder, and Kyle was seen shoving his boss on pit road after the race. Dale had no comment after that, but the following speed weeks, Dale kept a cold shoulder to his newest driver. The 2012 season had Dale Earnhardt Jr driving the #8 Budweiser car, Matt Kenseth driving the #1 car sponsored by Pennzoil and DeWalt, Kyle Busch driving the #15 KFC/Best Western car, and the #3 for Kevin Harvick.
The Daytona 500 was another embarrassment for Kyle Busch. While leading with 5 laps to go, Kyle Busch had a tire blow out, and wrecked into teammate Dale Jr who was running second. The resulting spin eventually took out 7 of the remaining top ten, with only Jeff Gordon getting by the chaos and winning his 4th Daytona 500. The season was amazing for 3 of the 4 DEI cars. 10 wins, including the Coca-Cola 600, and the Southern 500. 8 poles-with Kevin Harvick winning 5 of those, and 29 top 10's for the 8 car. Kyle Busch was not one of them, as he struggled and barely stayed in the top 35 in owner points. Brad Keselowski won his first championship. Jeff Gordon won his first race at Homestead. Dale actually offered his congratulations to Gordon afterwards "Congrats Jeff, one more to go, wonder boy. Glad you were allowed to race this week". (Jeff Gordon was facing possibly being parked after wrecking Clint Bowyer under caution at Phoenix after Bowyer ran him into the wall intentionally. Jeff then was at his hauler afterwards, when Bowyer's entire pit crew tried to attack Gordon. Gordon actually punched the tire changer in the mouth before he was thrown out of the way by his own tire changer. Earnhardt being a friend of Gordon watched this going on and was actually overheard telling Kyle Busch's crew to "go protect Jeff", since Kyle was already out.). DEI driver Kyle Busch was also wrecked in the ensuring wreck.
- 8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 5th in points, 4 wins, 15 top 5s 29 top 10s, 4 DNFs
- 3-Kevin Harvick, 8th in points, 3 wins, 14 top 5s, 20 top 10s, 2 DNFs
- 1-Matt Kenseth, 13th in points, 3 wins, 5 top 5s, 10 top 10s, 6 DNFs
- 15-Kyle Busch, 30th in points, 0 wins, 1 top 5, 4 top 10's, 9 DNFs
2013 started out with Dale making his opinion known about the new car. "I am not sure I like this car, it looks boxy and the quality of plate tracks is gonna suck I bet". Dale was also vocal about new comer Danica Patrick. "She has no business behind the wheel of a car. I got nothing against women in the sport, well ones that earn their seat that is."
Dale Earnhardt Inc was fielding a Nationwide series car for the first time in four years. The driver was Kyle Larson, a new driver in his first season, only running a handful of races. A near tragedy happened in the Nationwide race though. On the final turn, Kyle Larson was leading, but was hit from behind by Brad Keselowski. The spin eventually caused Kyle's car to get airborne, and was hit from behind which sent the front of the car into the grandstands, shearing off the entire car in front of the fire wall. Kyle Larson walked away with no injury but was noticeably shaken up. The fans were not so lucky. A tire was thrown into the upper level of the lower seats, injuring a fan. The entire engine ended up where a cameraman was standing seconds before. The camera man ran just seconds before the hit. Pieces of car caused lacerations, and multitudes of other injuries. In all, 28 fans were severely injured. Tony Stewart won the race, but didn't celebrate at all. He was in tears in victory lane, a very silent victory lane at that. Rumors started flying afterwards that fans had died instantly over Twitter. Those reports were later proven wrong. The investigation was still going on as of April 2013.
The 2013 Daytona 500 started off on a relatively low key due to the events of the previous day. The racing on the track may have shown that as well. Despite double digit passes for the lead, many fans and drivers thought it was the worst Daytona 500 they had ever seen. Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr won his second 500 this year, he was critical in victory lane. "This car sucks. You can't do @!#$ in it!. I apologize to the fans for having to watch such a pathetic race". His father had the same thoughts. "I told you this car was gonna suck. What a pathetic race". The DEI teams finished better in the 2013 race than the previous season, except for Kyle Busch, who was taken out by Danica Patrick at the halfway mark
- 8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 1st
- 3-Kevin Harvick, 9th
- 1-Matt Kenseth, 24th
- 15-Kyle Busch, 35th
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was fined $25,000 for "actions detrimental to stock car racing" for his colorful language the following Tuesday.
The following race at Phoenix had a bit of attempted payback on the part of Bowyer. Jeff Gordon was leading the race at the 5 lap to go mark with Kevin Harvick in second, and Kasey Kahne in third. Dale Earnhardt Jr was hanging back out in fifth and Matt Kenseth was back in tenth. Bowyer was going a lap down and attempted to put Gordon in the wall, but missed and took Harvick out instead. Needless to say, it was a repeat of the fall Phoenix race, with Harvick's crew instead of Gordon's. Both teams were fighting in the garage area. NASCAR actually red flagged the race due to the fight, which lasted at least seven minutes. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon, friendly rivals much like Jeff and Sr were, fought hard for the win, but Gordon eventually overtaking Jr at the start finish line. Jr was quoted as saying "That was fun, I guess the car is good for this kinda racing at least". Sr was livid at Bowyer afterwards saying "That idiot can't drive a plow truck, much less a race car. What the @!#! was JD (Gibbs) thinking signing that moron?"
The DEI teams fared decently:
- 8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 2nd
- 1-Matt Kenseth, 10th
- 15-Kyle Busch, 15th
- 3-Kevin Harvick, 2nd
Matt Kenseth won the 2013 championship narrowly beating out Jimmie Johnson in a tiebreaker. Kenseth had seven wins, but Johnson had five. So Kenseth won the championship. Dale Jr. finished fourth, Kevin Harvick finished fifth, and Kyle Busch finished 22nd. It was the closest championship battle in history. Bobby Labonte retired from the truck series after winning the 2013 championship, beating Matt Crafton.
In 2014, Kyle Busch was fired from DEI at the request of KFC, and his replacement was a young kid by the name of Kyle Larson. Larson was originally going to drive for Chip Ganassi, but the deal fell through, so Larson left, and Casey Mears moved back to the #42 car, leaving Germain Racing to grab Kyle Busch and place him in the #13 Geico Chevy. Stewart-Haas was looking to sign Harvick away from DEI to drive a fourth car for the team, but Harvick signed a three-year deal at DEI to stay at the #3. So Ryan Truex drove the #4 instead. Jeffrey Earnhardt and his #8 Nationwide team moved to Cup, renumbered to #81. Kyle Larson succeeded in his first year and finished 8th in the standings. Kevin Harvick won the 2014 championship. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also ran well throughout the year. Jeff Burton retired after 2014. Austin Dillon also ran for rookie honors in the #33 DOW Chevy.
In 2015, Dale Earnhardt decided to boycott NASCAR, publicly stating: "That f***in' Brian France. What the hell was he smokin' when he came up with those f***in' rules?! Crack?!" And it wasn't just himself. His team did the same, and he inspired 8 other teams to boycott as well, including the likes of Joe Gibbs, Richard Petty, Jack Roush, and Roger Penske. They decided to boycott until NASCAR reverses these changes and removes the Chase. NASCAR itself struggled. The only people who attended were the ones in campgrounds only because at the end of 2014 they bought those reserved spots so they might as well take them. This led Brian France to step down as CEO after 2015. The drivers who were in the teams that boycotted raced in lower series like ARCA, Dirt, or even Indycar. Jeff Gordon, in his final season, won the championship with nine wins, including big wins at Michigan, Iowa, North Wilkesboro, Nazareth, Rockingham, and Kentucky, and he's now won at least once at every track in the Cup Series.
In 2016, under new leadership, NASCAR reversed those changes, went back to the Generation 4 car, removed the green-white-checkered rule, and removed the Chase, leading NASCAR to be successful once more. NASCAR also removed ALL Cup drivers from Xfinity and Trucks. The big teams who boycotted returned, except for Germain Racing who went back to the Truck Series. Kyle Busch decided to call it quits before the season started. The same drivers returned to DEI. The champion was Kyle Larson. Daniel Suarez drove the #19 as Edwards returned to Roush after driving the #52 Dodge for HScott Motorsports for a year. Also, the All-Star Race, after being at Charlotte for its whole history, was moved to North Wilkesboro.
The same success continued into 2017 with those drivers, but Dale Earnhardt has a busy year ahead of him, as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth have announced their retirements after the season. Their replacements were anounced to be Bubba Wallace and Alex Bowman, respectively. As for Clint Bowyer, he was looked at by Tony Stewart to replace him, but Stewart went with Kyle Larson, leading DEI to get a young kid by the name of James Buescher to replace him.
DEI's 2017 lineup
8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Champions (2001 and after)
2001 Champion: 3-Dale Earnhardt
2002 Champion: 20-Tony Stewart
2003 Champion: 17-Matt Kenseth
2004 Champion: 3-Kevin Harvick
2005 Champion: 97-Kurt Busch
2006 Champion: 48-Jimmie Johnson
2007 Champion: 24-Jeff Gordon
2008 Champion: 17-Carl Edwards
2009 Champion: 5-Mark Martin
2010 Champion: 48-Jimmie Johnson
2011 Champion: 14-Tony Stewart
2012 Champion: 5-Brad Keselowski
2013 Champion: 1-Matt Kenseth
2014 Champion: 24-Jeff Gordon
2015 Champion: 24-Jeff Gordon
2016 Champion: 15-Kyle Larson
Drivers for 2017
2-Sam Hornish, Jr.
8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
78-Martin Truex, Jr.
98-Josh Wise99-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.