By AMANDA VINCENT
Sunday’s Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., will mark the 600th-career start for 14-time Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’ll become to 26th driver to make at least 600 starts in NASCAR’s top series, according to MRN. His No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team will celebrate the occasion by placing commemorative decals on the B-posts and the front of the hood of the car Earnhardt will race Sunday.
“Is that a lot?” Earnhardt asked fans when he mentioned the milestone on his Dale Jr. Download podcast.
Earnhardt posted 26 points-paying wins in his first 599 starts in the series, including two in the Daytona 500 in 2004 and He also has 148-career top-fives and 252 top-10 finishes.
After running five Cup races in 1999, Earnhardt made the move to NASCAR’s top series full-time in 2000. Since that time, he missed two races in 2012 and half the 2016 season, both times sidelined by concussions. His move to the Cup level came after two-consecutive championships in NASCAR’s Busch (now-Xfinity) Series in 1998 and 1999.
Earnhardt won twice in his rookie season at Texas Motor Speedway near Ft. Worth and at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He also won the All-Star Race in his first attempt that year. Despite winning twice in his rookie campaign, he lost out on Rookie of the Year honors to Matt Kenneth.
Earnhardt began his career in cars owned by his father, the late Dale Earnhardt. He drove a No. 8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the Cup Series through the 2007, before an ownership dispute with step-mother Teresa Earnhardt sent him to Hendrick Motorsports to drive a No. 88 Chevrolet. he remains as driver of the No. 88.
Earnhardt’s three most recent wins came in 2015 at Talladega (Ala.) Super speedway, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
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