DAYTONA, Fla. (WFLA) – If you are a fan of NASCAR, the name Earnhardt has special meaning. This is the first Daytona 500 in four decades without the name Dale Earnhardt. But the family is still racing.
“They almost threw the idea out the window and I said, ‘Come on, we’ve really got to have this,'” Jeffrey Earnhardt said about getting into racing. “Begged my dad for two years to let me race before he finally said, ‘Look, you go out, get your sponsors and your own car. Then I’ll let you race.’ So I did. “
While his helmet is an ode to his family legacy, Earnhardt is out to carve his own legacy.
The 28-year-old is the grandson of the late Dale Earnhadt, Sr. and he’s old enough to remember his grandfather’s Daytona 500 victory. But has grown up learning the sport from Dale Junior, otherwise known as Uncle Dale.
Last year, Jeffrey and Dale Jr. raced the Daytona 500, Junior’s last. The entire season was a goodbye tour, one Jeffrey was honored to watch. But granddad rides around the track with Earnhardt this year. A fitting tribute.
“Just understanding and knowing how hard my grandfather worked and what he meant to the fans. I feel it drives me the most. “
On Sunday, Earnhardt will start the Daytona 500 in the 14th row. Last year, he was knocked out of the race just past the midway point.