NASCAR: Dale Jr. announcement extends historic streak to 50 years

There hasn't been a NASCAR season without a Dale Earnhardt since 1974. That is set to remain the case for at least another year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., JR Motorsports, NASCAR
Dale Earnhardt Jr., JR Motorsports, NASCAR / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

After competing at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. contemplated officially calling it a career and opting not to return for a fourth consecutive season of running one Xfinity Series race, something he had done every year following his retirement from Cup Series competition at the end of the 2017 season.

Four years later, the 15-time Most Popular Driver is still competing in the Xfinity Series.

Earnhardt competed at Richmond Raceway in 2018 and Darlington Raceway in 2019. In 2021, he returned to Richmond, and in 2022, he made his first ever Xfinity Series start at Martinsville Speedway. Last year, he made two starts, one at Bristol Motor Speedway and another one at Homestead-Miami.

As a result of Earnhardt's JR Motorsports team continuing their partnership with Hellmann's, the 49-year-old Kannapolis, North Carolina native is set to return to the Xfinity Series for another start at Bristol this September. He is set to pilot the No. 88 Chevrolet in the Food City 300 on Friday, September 20 after missing out on a shot to win last year's race due to a late fire.

With an Xfinity Series start now scheduled for Earnhardt's seventh season as an ex-Cup Series driver, the 2024 season is set to be his 29th straight season of NASCAR competition on some level. He has competed in the Xfinity Series each year since 1996, sans 2000, and he competed full-time in the Cup Series from 2000 to 2017 after making his series debut, plus a few other starts, in 1999.

His start is also set to mark 50 consecutive years of a Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. made his Cup Series debut in 1975 and competed each year until he was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. He also competed in select Xfinity Series races from 1982 to 1994.

The Earnhardt name has already competed in NASCAR for the 50th straight year this season, as Jeffrey, Dale Jr,'s nephew, competed for Sam Hunt Racing and placed eighth at Atlanta Motor Speedway last month. The 2024 season is Jeffrey's 16th straight season of NASCAR competition on some level, as he has made starts in the Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Truck Series over the years.

During this five-decade streak, the other Earnhardt who has competed in the sport is Jeffrey's brother, Bobby Dale. He made select Xfinity Series starts from 2017 to 2019.

dark. Next. NASCAR reverses previous rule change. NASCAR reverses previous rule change

Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Sr.'s father, was the first Earnhardt to compete in NASCAR, doing so in the Cup Series from 1956 to 1964.