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Dale Earnhardt Jr on HOF Induction: “Nothing That Racing Has Given Me Will Ever Top This Night”

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – JANUARY 20: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France presents Dale Earnhardt Jr. with his jacket during the NHOF Class of 2021 Blue Jacket ceremony at NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – arguably NASCAR’s most popular driver, ever — has officially been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, as part of the Class of 2021 and to say he was ecstatic in his induction speech, would be an understatement.

“Nothing that racing has given me will ever top this night,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. “The people enshrined in this building, they’re my role models and they’re my heroes, and one of them happens to be my father, so to join Dad in the Hall of Fame is probably as good as it’s ever going to get.”

Earnhardt Jr. joins his father, Dale Earnhardt, as one of only seven father-son pairings to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joining an exceptional list of racing families that includes the Pettys, Jarretts, Allisons, Bakers, and Frances.

 

The driver turned team owner, had a lot to say about his two-decade-long tenure in NASCAR’s top-three series, including a heartfelt message to Tony Eury Sr, which moved him to tears.

“When Dad asked Tony Sr. who he wanted in, pretty much Tony Sr’s racecar at that time, Tony run the show, he said my name,” Earnhardt Jr. continued. “and when he did that, I not only won the lottery, but I got the second person in my life that held me accountable.”

Of course Tony, he’s nothing like Gary. Gary was calm, measured, and never raised his voice, Tony Sr… his ass-chewings echoed off the grandstands, and nobody was spared. But I needed Tony Sr. more than I realized because what came with all that at the time, was championships, big expectations, and instant life-changing notoriety.”

Imagine trying to navigate that chaotic super-charged world without a ground like Tony. And the biggest compliment that I could ever give Tony Sr. is that I never wanted to let you down and I still feel that same way today, I think about you all the time and every day I live my life to please people like you, buddy.”

Another people – or in this case a group of people — Earnhardt Jr. had to thank for his Hall of Fame-caliber career, are the fans, specifically JR Nation.

“There’s one key support system that’s always been consistent throughout my career, and that’s the fans,” Earnhardt Jr. said prior to a booming round of applause. “JR Nation’s always had my back. When I stumbled you guys were right there, ready to lift me back up, man there were times where I absolutely needed you, and you never let me down, you were always there.”

We won together, and we lost together, and because so, you should know that I don’t go into this Hall of Fame alone, I go with you, and I go because of you.”

Even though Earnhardt Jr. has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he isn’t done racing yet, as he’ll return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Martinsville Speedway this Spring, driving the Hellmann’s sponsored JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

 

 

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4 Responses

  1. Dale Jr’s dedication to the entire sport of auto racing was his ticket to the HOF. I am so proud to be one of his fans tonight. I watched with my Jr shirt on, my Jr hat on, and a mitt full of tissues. The man I have been rooting for since 1999 is in the HOF. Great night.

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