NASCAR: Earnhardt conspiracy theory emerges at Darlington

Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports /

Some NASCAR fans believe that Teresa Earnhardt is the reason for a late change to one of the throwback paint schemes for Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway.

NASCAR is set for its official throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway this weekend, and the Cup Series race, the Goodyear 400, is scheduled to wrap things up on Sunday afternoon.

Several Cup teams revealed their throwback paint schemes for this 293-lap race around the four-turn, 1.366-mile (2.198-kilometer) egg-shaped oval in Darlington, South Carolina earlier this week.

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Among those teams was Trackhouse Racing Team, which unveiled two epic Earnhardt throwback schemes for their #1 Chevrolet, driven by Ross Chastain, and their #99 Chevrolet, driven by Daniel Suarez.

Back on Sunday, November 22, 1998, two weeks after the Cup Series season ended, a NASCAR exhibition race was contested at Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway in Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan.

Both Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. competed in this race, the NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi, with sponsorship from Coca-Cola, with Earnhardt Sr. in the #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Earnhardt Jr. in the #1 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) Chevrolet.

Chastain’s #1 Chevrolet for this weekend resembles Dale Jr.’s #1 Chevrolet, and Suarez’s #99 Chevrolet resembles Dale Sr.’s #3 Chevrolet.

However, after the initial paint schemes were revealed, and even after the spotter guide was posted for Sunday’s race, it was revealed that the number 1 on Chastain’s car now has a slash through it.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, considering the fact that the numbers on the cars run by the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned organization have slashes through them, representative of the team’s official logo.

But when the number 1 on Chastain’s car was altered and the number 99 on Suarez’s car wasn’t, an Earnhardt conspiracy theory emerged.

Many fans believe that this change came as a result of a legal threat from Teresa Earnhardt.

Teresa Earnhardt, the wife of the late Dale Sr. who took over DEI following his tragic death, has long been somewhat of a thorn in the side of the NASCAR community, specifically fans of the Earnhardt family, and has seemingly made a habit of trying to drag the Earnhardt name through the mud.

Given some of her past actions and methods of interference when it comes to Earnhardt and NASCAR-related manners, it seems that nobody would put it past her to threaten Trackhouse Racing Team over the use of their DEI-like font for the number 1 on Chastain’s car.

After all, the Richard Childress Racing-themed number 99 did not change, despite the team’s regular use of the slashes.

As for any factual backing to this conspiracy theory, there isn’t any to speak of.

Of course, there isn’t anything to disprove it yet either; that’s what makes it a conspiracy theory. And there is a saying that the difference between a conspiracy theory and a fact is a few months.

It may be worth noting the fact that DEI became Earnhardt Ganassi Racing before becoming Chip Ganassi Racing. But it wasn’t until after they fully became Chip Ganassi Racing when the font of the number 1 changed.

And after last year, Chip Ganassi Racing was sold to Trackhouse Racing Team. Ironically, Ty Norris, the executive who played a key role in the success of DEI is the president of the second-year Cup team.

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As for the actual on-track product is concerned, the Goodyear 400 is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 8, and it is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from Darlington Raceway beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now!