Racing has always been a family business, and nowhere is that more true than at Talladega Superspeedway. In this series leading up to the 1000bulbs.com 500, Anniston Star contributor Mark McCarter takes a look at some of those families.
The headline in the Oct. 16, 2000 edition of The Anniston Star was a simple and perfect as possible.
“Earnhardt Again,” it read.
Cut and paste that one.
Ten times, Dale Earnhardt Sr. won Cup-level races at Talladega Superspeedway in 44 starts. Eleven other times, he was either second or third. Pretty good win-place-show bet, was Dale. He had a yacht called “Sunday Money,” but that wasn’t the only day he collected at ‘Dega. He took the checkered flag in one of his three Xfinity starts and three of the 10 IROC races he ran.
“I still don’t like restrictor plate racing,” Earnhardt actually had the nerve to say after the race. “I’m not that good at it.” Put that quotation somewhere along with Steph Curry saying, “I’m not that good at shooting jump shots.”
Now, let’s factor in heredity. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had six Talladega triumphs in 35 starts, including four in a row. And toss in another in Xfinity. The six Cup wins ties him with his father’s favorite foil, Jeff Gordon, for second-best.
The father and son did it every whichaway. Dominate from the start. Come from behind. Pass furiously in the late laps, cruise with the field in the rear-view mirror. On their own, or with a drafting push. For instance, in Senior’s final race, with Kenny Wallace providing the boost – and claiming it as “our” win.
The melancholy part of the Earnhardts’ Talladega lore is that Dale Senior’s victory there in November 2000 was the last in his storied career.
All of which made Dale Junior even more wistful following his final Talladega win, back in May 2015.
“I feel like we have a lot of supporters here because of dad’s success. He won so many races here, and I love when we go to Victory Lane here, because I just feel like I add to his legacy. All I ever wanted to do was make him proud, and I feel like when we win at those tracks where he was successful, like Talladega, then that’s exactly what we’re doing.”