NASCAR Cup: Jeffrey Earnhardt keeps Earnhardt streak alive at Talladega
Jeffrey Earnhardt (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
For Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Bobby Labonte will be behind the wheel of the No. 32 Go FAS Racing Ford that is shared with Jeffrey Earnhardt and Joey Gase, but that doesn’t mean Earnhardt will be sidelined for the race. Instead, he’ll drive the No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing in the Talladega Race.
“I’m really excited to drive the No. 83 Starter Toyota Camry for the fall race at Talladega. It’s my first Cup Series race at Talladega, my first race with BK Racing, the first time anyone from our family competes in a Toyota,and it’s the 25th anniversary of my grandfather’s (1991) victory at Talladega” Earnhardt said. “Having this opportunity with an iconic American partner like Starter is an incredible honor. I can’t remember being so pumped up for a race and sincerely appreciate our friends at Starter for their support.”
The No. 83 is usually driven by BK Racing regular, Matt DiBenedetto, but DiBenedetto will be moved to BK Racing’s No. 93 part-time entry for the Hellmann’s 500. David Ragan will remain in his normal No. 23 BK Racing ride.
With Earnhardt behind the wheel of the No. 83 at Talladega, the car will carry a paint scheme inspired by one on the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driven by his grandfather, Dale Earnhardt. The elder Earnhardt was a 10-time winner at Talladega.
With his uncle Dale Earnhardt Jr. still sidelined by a concussion, Jeffrey Earnhardt’s entry at Talladega will keep a streak of consecutive Cup races at the track alive. At least one member of the Earnhardt family has been in every Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway since 1980.
Earnhardt’s start at the superspeedway on Sunday, his career-first at Talladega, brings with it at least one other family tie. His crew chief for the race will be Doug Richert, who also the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt for the first of seven championships in 1980.
“I’m looking forward to, once again, returning to the track as crew chief with an Earnhardt behind the wheel,” Richert said. “The Earnhardt family played such an important part in my racing career, starting in 1978 with Dale Sr. and then winning a championship with him in 1980. It’s very cool to work with the fourth generation of the family.”