Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An Earnhardt driving the #3 car was up front competing for the win at Talladega yesterday.
It wasn’t Dale Earnhardt, of course, but it was his grandson Jeffrey Earnhardt driving the #3 car in yesterday’s Xfinity Series race for Richard Childress Racing, the same car that the Intimidator made famous.
The son of Kerry Earnhardt and nephew to Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his first start for RCR, and quickly proved that when there’s an Earnhardt in the car at Talladega, they’re going to be one of the favorites.
Jeffrey had Larry McReynolds on his pit box this weekend, the crew chief who led his grandfather Dale to his only Daytona 500 win back in 1998. And showing the same speed at Talladega as generations of Earnhardts before him, Jeffrey and McReynolds teamed up to put the #3 car on the pole and put the rest of the field on notice: The #3 car was here to win.
And he even had his grandpa riding with him on this badass helmet.
Well it all came down to a triple-overtime finish.
On the last restart, Earnhardt was lined up eighth to take the green flag. But as we’ve seen so many times before, the #3 car was on a mission to the front of the field.
By the time the pack came around to take the white flag for the last lap, Earnhardt had worked his way up to fifth. And with his uncle Dale Jr. cheering him on in the broadcast booth, the #3 car sliced and diced through the field on the last lap, looking a lot like the Earnhardts we’ve seen in the past at Talladega.
But he didn’t quite have enough time to grab the win, having to settle for a second place finish, a mere .131 seconds behind winner Noah Gragson.
Speaking on the end of the race, McReynolds said that Jeffrey’s driving reminded him a lot of Dale Sr.
“Well, I had feelings on that last lap that there must have been an Earnhardt behind the wheel based on the things he was doing. The apple didn’t roll too far from the dad’s tree or the granddad’s tree.”
And for Jeffrey Earnhardt? He said he was “living a dream.”
It wasn’t the win that Earnhardt nation was hoping for (although Dale Jr. ended up getting a win as a car owner with his driver Gragson), but man was it cool to see all the shades of the Intimidator back in a race: The black #3 car, Larry Mac on the pit box, and an Earnhardt behind the wheel battling for a win at Talladega.