NASCAR legend’s return marks a first since 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR Xfinity Series (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR Xfinity Series (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

For the first time since the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is set to compete in two races, and he is set to make his second start this weekend.

Since retiring from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the 2017 season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has remained active in the racing world, and that activity has included one start per season in the Xfinity Series.

He made his return to Richmond Raceway in 2018 before competing at Darlington Raceway in 2019 and Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2020. In 2021, he competed at Richmond again, and in 2022, he made his first ever Xfinity Series start at Martinsville Speedway. In all five of those races, he competed with sponsorship from Unilever’s Hellmann’s brand.

Hellmann’s returned to sponsor the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet for Earnhardt in last month’s playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway, marking his first start at the “Last Great Colosseum” since 2017.

It looked as though the sport’s 15-time Most Popular Driver Award winner may have a shot to win his first NASCAR race since 2016 before a late fire in his car.

But unlike every year from 2018 to 2022, Dale Jr. isn’t just competing in one NASCAR Xfinity Series race this season.

For the first time since 2017, when he was still a full-time Cup Series driver, the 49-year-old Kannapolis, North Carolina native is set to compete in a second Xfinity Series event.

With sponsorship from longtime JR Motorsports partner Bass Pro Shops, Earnhardt is set to make his return to Homestead this weekend for the Contender Boats 300.

His return to the track is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he pondered completely hanging up his helmet after his June 2020 start at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Homestead, Florida oval.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is issuing an instant $200 to NASCAR fans who bet $5, lists Earnhardt at +1400 to win Saturday’s race, making him the ninth favorite.

In six career Xfinity Series starts at the track, Earnhardt has recorded four top eight finishes, including a top finish of second place in 1999 and a fifth place finish in his most recent start there three years ago. His best finish in 17 Cup Series starts at the track was a third place effort in 2013.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Make note of the fact that the Contender Boats 300 is set to be broadcast on USA Network, not NBC like it was initially supposed to be. It is still set to begin at 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, October 21. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!