NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. will officially return to the track on Saturday at Richmond Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Go Bowling 250. This will mark the fourth-consecutive year, since Earnhardt retired from full-time competition, that he has run a single NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
Earnhardt will look to continue the trend of finishing inside the top-five, something he has done in all three of his NXS one-off events since retiring from full-time competition following the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. However, if the North Carolina-native wants to get his fourth -consecutive top-five finish, he’ll have to pass a lot of cars at Richmond on Saturday.
Earnhardt, by way of the NASCAR performance metrics, will start from the 30th position, by far the worst starting spot he’s had for any of his one-off events.
That being said, the 46-year old veteran is well versed on what it takes to run well at the 0.75-mile speedway in Virginia. Heading into Saturday afternoon’s race, Earnhardt feels quite confident that he’ll have the car to do what he needs to do for a good finish.
“I know that Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and the entire No. 8 team will unload a fast Camaro and hopefully we’ll have a shot at it towards the end of the race,” Earnhardt said in a JR Motorsports team release.
Earnhardt has amassed seven victories at Richmond in his NASCAR National Series career. Three of the wins have come in the NASCAR Cup Series, while four of them have come in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition.
Richmond was the site of Earnhardt’s first-annual one-off NXS race in 2018. In that race, he started second, led 96 of the 250 laps and finished an impressive fourth after taking the Stage 2 Win.
If there is any track that Earnhardt can overcome a bad starting spot, that isn’t Daytona or Talladega, it would probably be Richmond.
“I always have a lot of fun when I come back for my one race a year in this series,” Earnhardt explained. “Richmond is one of my favorite tracks, and it’s one I’ve had a lot of success at in the past.”
Earnhardt will be driving a Unilever 9/11 special tribute scheme, as Saturday’s race will take place on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
— JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) May 4, 2021
Expect Earnhardt to have a slow and methodical march toward the front on Saturday, but he can’t be too slow on his path their — at least in the early going of the race. By starting 30th, he’ll be a good portion towards being a lap down on the initial start of the race. He’ll have to drive smart and limit mistakes.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.