Concord, N.C. • Some of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s earliest NASCAR memories came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and he hopes to add another big one by winning the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.
Earnhardt grew up watching his late father, Dale Earnhardt, race here more than 30 years ago and has long wanted to win NASCAR’s longest race as his dad accomplished three times, the last in 1993.
“I want to win a points race here so bad because we live just right down the road,” Earnhardt Jr. said.
He has come close, most notably in 2011 when he broke free from a late restart to take the lead. He got the white flag just fine, then ran out of gas on the front straightaway and coasted through the final turn before Kevin Harvick passed him for the win. Earnhardt finished seventh, his sixth top-10 finish in the Memorial Day weekend race.
Earnhardt won the All-Star race here in 2000. He kept the strong showing going a week later when he won his only pole at Charlotte. In the race, though, Earnhardt faded to fourth.
“We’ve had some good cars, but not anywhere near enough,” he said this week. “There are a lot of other tracks where I think, ‘Man, we were really close,’ or the car was fast enough. But I’ve never really had a car here that I thought we had it, we were walking away and we gave it away.”
This might be the time, though.
Earnhardt is off to one of his most consistent starts. He took the season-opening Daytona 500, and he’s barely slowed down since.