Earnhardt name back in NASCAR for 47th straight year

Jeffrey Earnhardt, NASCAR -Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Earnhardt, NASCAR -Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeffrey Earnhardt is set to compete full-time for JD Motorsports in the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, extending a family streak to 47 years.

JD Motorsports confirmed Monday that Jeffrey Earnhardt is set to return for another year as the full-time driver of the #0 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021.

Earnhardt, who competed for the team full-time after the sport returned from the 75-day hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic this past season and finished in a season-high 11th place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, is set to compete alongside Colby Howard, who is set to drive the #15 Chevrolet full-time after running a part-time schedule in 2020.

Here is what Earnhardt had to say about the opportunity to build on what he accomplished throughout 2020 in a team release.

"“We got a late start and the plan was to run six to twelve races but something good was happening and by Bristol you could sense the momentum we were having. We came home in 15th in our third race and that’s an accomplishment when just a few weeks earlier we had no plans to work together.  We had great partners join us and the season had some real bright spots to build on.”"

The return of Earnhardt to JD Motorsports in 2021 marks 47 consecutive seasons of the Earnhardt name in NASCAR competition.

It had already been confirmed that the name was set to return in 2021, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. is set to compete in one Xfinity Series race for JR Motorsports, the team he co-owns, but he has yet to confirm where he will make that start. He has competed in one Xfinity Series per year since 2018, the year after he retired from full-time Cup Series competition.

Jeffrey has competed in NASCAR on some level in each of the last 12 years. He made his debut in the Xfinity Series in 2009 and competed in the series from 2011 through 2015, doing so as a full-time driver in 2014, before returning as a part-time driver in 2019.

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He competed part-time in the Truck Series in 2010 and 2011, and he competed in the Cup Series from 2015 through 2019, doing so as a full-time driver (minus the two road courses) in 2017.

As for other Earnhardts who have gotten the streak to where it is now, Dale Sr. began the streak back in 1975, and he competed in the Cup Series from then until his death in 2001. Dale Jr. competed in the Cup Series from 1999 to 2017 and has competed in the Xfinity Series on some level every year since 1996, save for 2000. Bobby Dale Earnhardt competed in select Xfinity Series races in each season from 2017 through 2019.

But Dale Sr. was not the first Earnhardt to compete in NASCAR. While he does not account for any of the 47 years of this streak, it was Ralph who got the name into the sport back when he made his debut in 1956. He competed over eight different seasons from 1956 through 1966, although he never ran a full schedule.

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The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is scheduled to get underway on Saturday, February 13 with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway, a race in which Jeffrey did not compete in 2020. He was scored in 33rd in the August race at the track after crashing out.