Winston Cup News
Son's rise surprises
May 26, 1999 - By JIM UTTER Staff Writer - That's Racin'
Dale Earnhardt has a picture of himself and his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., together in
Victory Lane in 1990 when Dale Sr. won the Winston Cup championship.
``They said he was 16 years old in that picture, but he looks 10,'' the elder Earnhardt
said. ``In 1998, eight years later, he's the Grand National champion. That's hard to
``It's unbelievable the way your kids grow up and the way things change over the years.''
It's no different in stock-car racing.
At 7 tonight at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will attempt
to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600, his first Winston Cup race. Sunday's race will be the
first of five he will attempt this season before moving full-time to the series in 2000.
The younger Earnhardt is trying to duplicate his father's feat. Earnhardt Sr. made his
Winston Cup debut at Charlotte in 1975. He started 33rd and finished 22nd in his only race
Since, Earnhardt Sr.'s trek through the Winston Cup ranks has been legend -- seven
championships, legions of fans, fabulous on-track performances.
``When I came into Cup, I had already beat up and down the road in the sportsman
division,'' Earnhardt Sr. said. ``I spent my money until I was broke. I didn't have
``It's a little different for (Earnhardt Jr.). Things are there for him. His team, his
sponsors, things like that. I didn't have that when I started.
``He always says he had to work for it. He worked for it in the driving department and
paying attention department, but he hasn't had to work for it and get it himself like we
did. Things change.''
Much has changed in Winston Cup racing since Earnhardt Sr.'s debut 24 years ago.
The sport has ballooned, both in popularity and in the money it takes to be competitive
and in what good drivers can command.
Another young star, Jeff Gordon, entered the series in 1993 at the age of 21 and won his
first championship at 24 in 1995. Earnhardt Sr. was 29 when he won his first title in
Earnhardt Jr. will enter the series possibly with larger expectations than Gordon.
His debut in the Coca-Cola 600 has been dubbed ``Countdown to Little E Day.'' And his No.
8 Chevrolet was fastest in a test session at the track this month.
``The Cup deal coming into Charlotte is a big week for him. He's a young one, but he's
handling it all pretty good,'' Earnhardt Sr. said this week of his son. ``He's going wide
open with all the guys and team.
``He's handling things as they come. I sit down and talk to him and see where his head is
every once in a while. I think he can handle it. The good thing is, he can come in here
Wednesday and not worry about the (Grand National) car.
``If he does OK Wednesday, he can focus on the (Grand National) car Thursday. Then on
Friday, we don't do any Cup stuff, so that will be good for him.''
Earnhardt Sr. said he has enjoyed watching Dale Jr.'s career rise and he hopes the same
success on his other son, Kerry, who has driven on the Grand National circuit at times
``I'm having fun with everything. I enjoy seeing (Dale Jr.) do what he's doing,''
Earnhardt Sr. said. ``The whole family is doing good.
``I'd like to see Kerry get something going, and he's got some things in the works. We're
helping him sort some things out and maybe get something going for him.''
Though he encourages Earnhardt Jr. to live his own life, Earnhardt Sr. is quick to point
out he doesn't plan to be too far away in case he's needed.
``Hopefully, everything will go right for him. There's pressure, but there's a lot of hope
and investment in him as far as the sponsor and team. That's a big weight,'' Earnhardt Sr
``To not burden him with that and let him be himself and try to grow with the team and
grow into it is important. I'm experienced enough to know and to help and watch.
``If I see something that's coming down on him too hard or putting too much pressure on
him, I'll try to tune on it and take a little off.''
Dale Earnhardt Sr. (sunglasses) has confidence in son Dale Earnhardt Jr., last season's
Grand National champion, but won't stray too far away in case he's needed.
Winston Cup Series
Little E - This Bud's for You
Dale Jr has Winston Cup
Park makes splash of his
Wednesday Practice 1
Dale Jr. ready for Winston Cup
Going for a spin - Whirlwind life speeding faster for Dale
Earnhardt Jr. this week
Hype is Heavy
It's Junior's Time To Shine
Little E Knows Next Step Is
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR's . . . Rising
Star / Expectations, pressure high for racing progeny
1998 Archive - Dale Earnhardt Jr Teams up with Budweiser
Earnhardt fans, check out That's Racin's new wallpapers
The Life and Times of the
We are a Link Partner with: