It’s no secret that Dale Jr. never won a championship at the Cup Series level, however he did win 26 races throughout his career including the Daytona 500 twice and four straight races at Talladega Superspeedway. He won the Xfinity Series Championship twice (called the Busch Series at the time), but his best finish at the Cup level was 3rd.
Either way, Dale Jr’s might be the greatest ambassador to the sport. He won the Most Popular Driver 15 times in a row from 2003 to 2017, and as far as NASCAR drivers go, he was and still is… a rockstar.
“Once I realized that I wasn’t going to match Dad’s statistics on paper… to me, my dad was this really important part of the puzzle, and he was important because of his success but also because of the reaction to whatever he did.
I thought, ‘Wow, that is an asset, that’s what being an asset to the sport is and this guy is valuable.’ I wanted to have that same value.”
So even though he didn’t quite have the stats to be the best driver in the world, he was certainly the most notable.
But now, about to join his father in Hall of Fame, what would Dale Sr. think?
“I think he would be surprised. I think he certainly would be happy and proud, but also typical Dad going, ‘Well, if you try a little harder here,’ or ‘If you had done a little different there’ and ‘Maybe you should prioritize this…’
That’s exactly what I would expect from him, and I would welcome that type of criticism today.”
And it sounds like Dale Sr.’s critical eye has rubbed off on Jr., who says he does have some regrets about the way he handled his career. He also adds that if his dad had been around (he passed away in a racing accident during Dale’s second season in the Cup Series), he definitely would’ve had some tough love for his son.
“There’s some regrets and mistakes and things that I wish I would have done differently. Dad would have pointed those out for sure.”
The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Induction Ceremony will take place in Charlotte this coming Friday, January 21.