Championship only a formality now for Earnhardt Jr. HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 10, 1998) Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make NASCAR history this Sunday when he returns to the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex for the Jiffy Lube...
Championship only a formality now for Earnhardt Jr. HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 10, 1998)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make NASCAR history this Sunday when he returns to the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex for the Jiffy Lube Miami 300, the final event of the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division championship. Earnhardt Jr. needs only to start the race to become the first third-generation champion in NASCAR's 50-year history. His grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, won the 1956 title in the NASCAR Sportsman division, the predecessor of the NASCAR Busch Series, while his father Dale Earnhardt has won seven NASCAR Winston Cup Serieschampionships (1980, 1986-87, 1990-91, 1993-94). Driving the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet, Earnhardt Jr. currently holds a 166-point lead over Matt Kenseth in the battle for the championship. After finishing second this past weekend in the Stihl 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. all but clinched his first career NASCAR Busch Series title in his first full year in the series. Earnhardt Jr. leads the series with seven victories and three pole positions in 30 races. The 24-year-old driver is quick to give credit to his team. "These guys are excellent," Earnhardt said of his crew, led by Tony Eury Sr. "They were a race-winning team last year, and they pieced a few more things together to improve their performance this year. I just feel lucky to be a part of it." Steve Park was the team's regular driver last season, winning three races. Earnhardt Jr. had eight starts, including a 13th-place finish at Homestead.
"He showed a lot of talent last year in the Busch car," said Park, who now drives the Dale Earnhardt Inc. Pennzoil Chevrolet in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "We had a good team and we showed we can win some races, and he's picked up where we left off and has taken it to the next level. He's got a lot of his father in him."
Regardless of him virtually clinching the championship last weekend at Atlanta, Earnhardt said he plans to run "as hard as we can go" at Homestead.
"You've got to be smart, but being too conservative can get you in trouble," he said. "So we're going to run hard."
Practice and Bud Pole Qualifying for the Jiffy Lube Miami 300, the final event of the year at the Homestead facility, begins Friday. The weekend also includes races for the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series and NASCAR Goody's Dash series. The fourth annual Jiffy Lube Miami 300 takes the green flag at 1 p.m. EST Sunday.
A limited number of grandstand seats are still available for the race weekend. Advance ticket buyers are also eligible to reserve tickets for Homestead's inaugural NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, the 1999 Jiffy Lube Miami 400. For additional information or to place credit card orders, call (305) 230-RACE (7223).
Source: NASCAR Online