For the first time since the 1974 season, there are no Earnhardts lined up to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series this year.
Few names in NASCAR have the same tie to the sport’s past that the name Earnhardt does. But for the first time in more than four and a half decades, that name is not slated to appear at NASCAR’s highest level in 2020.
Not since the 1974 season has there been a full Cup Series season contested without an Earnhardt competing in some capacity. Many years since then, an Earnhardt has competed full-time, although more recently, the name has appeared on a part-time basis.
Ralph Earnhardt’s Cup Series career lasted from 1956 to 1966, and the name Earnhardt returned when the now legendary seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt made his debut in 1975.
Dale competed for more than 26 seasons before his life was tragically taken in a last-lap crash in the 2001 season-opening Daytona 500.
Two years prior, Dale’s son, Dale Jr., made his Cup Series debut, and he became a full-time driver in 2000. He competed full-time up until his retirement in 2017.
In the meantime, Jeffrey, Dale Jr.’s nephew, made his Cup Series debut in 2015. After Dale Jr. retired in 2017, one year after he was forced to miss several races with concussion-like symptoms, Jeffrey was still around competing part-time.
The Cup Series nearly had its first season without an Earnhardt since 1974 last year, but Jeffrey came back for a race at Talladega Superspeedway in April. This year, however, it doesn’t look like he’ll be back.
He is set to compete in the Xfinity Series on a part-time basis with JD Motorsports, so the Earnhardt name will be back in NASCAR as a whole for the 46th straight year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., like he did in 2018 and 2019, is set to make one NASCAR Xfinity Series appearance driving for the team he co-owns, JR Motorsports, as well. After competing at Richmond Raceway in 2018 and Darlington Raceway in 2019, he is set to compete at Homestead-Miami Speedway this March.