TBT: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first XFINITY and Sprint Cup wins at Texas

During his NASCAR career, Dale Earnhardt Jr.  has won a total of 50 races in the sanctioning body’s top two divisions: 26 in the Sprint Cup Series and 24 more in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

In both series, Earnhardt’s first victory came at Texas Motor Speedway, which on Sunday will play host to the AAA Texas 500, the middle race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Round of 8.

Earnhardt’s first victory at TMS came in 1998 in the Coca-Cola 300 XFINITY race, where he was driving an ACDelco-sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo owned by his father.

After a late-race caution, Joe Nemechek  led on a restart with seven laps to go, briefly opening a big lead.

Earnhardt got a great run coming to the white flag and dove under Nemechek to take the lead on the final lap and he went on to win for the first time in 16 series starts in NASCAR’s AAA division.

“Daddy, I love you to death!” Junior said on his parade lap.

“Man, I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t rather have anybody else on the radio than Dale Earnhardt, but he makes me nervous,” he added in Victory Lane.

Then in 2000, Earnhardt Jr. won again in Texas, driving the No.8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet Sprint Cup car with Budweiser sponsorship. That victory came in just his 12th Sprint Cup start.

In Victory Lane, the elder Earnhardt was the first one there, with the race-winning driver joyously leaping into his father’s arms. But Earnhardt quickly departed, because he wanted the attention on his son.

“I’m out of breath, I’ll tell you what,” said Junior, who had battled the flu all week. “That was the hardest race I ever drove.”