Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s history at Dover is more than memorable


Dale Earnhardt Jr. has announced that he will retire from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after the 2017 season. As the Hendrick Motorsports driver prepares to climb into the race car for the final time at each track — or at least likely for the last time, as he has left the door open for possible one-off races — we take a look at how he has fared over the years at each venue and what to expect in his last ride there.

Dale Jr. at Dover International Speedway | Oct. 1, 2017

Starts: 34

Best finish: First (September 2001)

Biggest highlight: Earnhardt’s win at Dover wasn’t just another win. It was the first NASCAR Cup race after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Earnhardt’s victory lap with the United States flag was one of the more emotional, patriotic moments in a sport that thrives on emotion and patriotism.

Worst moment: A crash — when he spun on his own — in September 2003 resulted in a visit to the hospital. Track workers believed he lost consciousness after he dropped the window net so he strapped himself into the medical helicopter (there is heavy traffic in Dover). He was diagnosed with a concussion but did race the following week at Talladega.

Outlook for Sunday: Earnhardt seems happy as he will start seventh — his best starting spot at a non-restrictor-plate track since starting third in the March race at Phoenix. Earnhardt has just 12 top-10s in 34 starts at Dover. It looks as if it very well could be 13 top-10s at Dover to close his career.

Dale Jr. says: “I felt very lucky to be the guy that got to win that [September 2001] race in that circumstance, but I know that anyone would have reacted very similarly considering what we were going through. … That was a very special win for me personally.”

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