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Dale Jr. says "my uniform was burning up" while battling for win

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led laps, battled for the win, and ended his NASCAR Xfinity return with a hole in his firesuit after a fire broke out inside the car.

It was an eventful race, with the 48-year-old NASCAR Hall of Famer starting from the 15th position in his first start of the 2023 season.

He quickly moved forward, making contact with Daniel Hemric as he marched into the top-ten. Soon enough, he was inside the top-five and when a caution flew in the middle of Stage 2, he took advantage of it in a big way.

While most of the leaders had to worry about staying out and collecting stage points as they focused on advancing through the playoffs, Earnhardt was only worried about getting his car out front.

He pitted and after the stage ended, he was able to cycle into the race lead. Earnhardt battled back-and-forth with several Xfinity regulars for the rest of the race as they fought for control of the race.

Unfortunately, while running inside the top-five, he abruptly pulled off track as smoke filled the cockpit. His race was over just 30 laps short of the finish, finishing 30th after leading 47 laps.

Dale Earnhardt Jr, JR Motorsports, Hellmann's Chevrolet Camaro

Dale Earnhardt Jr, JR Motorsports, Hellmann's Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

"We got a hole in my pants," he told NBC afterwards, showcasing the burn marks. "Somehow or another, the shifter tunnel column caught on fire. I saw some smoke in the car and I smelled it and I was like, ‘hopefully that's not me,’ but it was. That last lap I saw a big fireball down in the tunnel of the car and I felt it. Obviously, my uniform was burning up. I was like, ‘I can't keep going. I got to stop.’ And usually when you stop, the fire gets bigger.  

"So, I pulled over by the pit stall and some of the guys were pretty alert and they helped me out. I hate it. We were going to finish with a top ten, maybe top five. We had a shot at winning it if the car was going to run good at the end. Trying not to mess nobody's night up at the same time, but I had fun.” 

 

Despite the disappointing end, Earnhardt still got to celebrate as his team [JR Motorsports] went on to win the race with Justin Allgaier behind the wheel of the No. 7 car. Hanging out the driver's window, he rode with Allgaier all the way to Victory Lane.

“Oh yeah. I had fun. I had a blast. Check that box. Justin (Allgaier) wins. Brandt car wins. Great for Rick (Brandt) and his whole team," said Earnhardt in reaction to the JRM win. "Thanks to all the fans. We had a great crowd tonight. The Hellmann’s was fast. We drove up there and led laps, legitimately. I couldn't believe it. I was like, 'man’s what’s going on?' Makes me want to do more, but I’m going to Homestead, so I’ll see everybody there. We’ll have some fun at Homestead riding the fence.”

Earnhardt's next start will come at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 21st, again driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JRM.

 

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