O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


FORT WORTH, Texas (November 3, 2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. previewed his final scheduled NASCAR weekend as driver Friday morning at Texas Motor Speedway - site of his first career XFINITY and Cup series victories - with media covering Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Playoff race.

“Texas has been so awesome for me,” said Junior, adding TMS to his Appreci88tion tour reflections. “My wife (Amy) is from Texas and I got a whole other family down here. That’s a bonus of being married to her. Texas is a place that’s almost like a second home.”

And then there was the moment when a guy wearing a full black cowboy outfit strode onto the carpeted floor of the infield media center aboard a horse. Yes, a horse. A big, brown horse named Sarah Jessica Parker.

“We’re doing something to honor you and Junior Nation,” TMS President Eddie Gossage said. “You into horses?”

Recall that Gossage presented four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, Junior’s former Hendrick Motorsports teammate, with a pair of Shetland ponies for his children during his retirement ceremony here two years ago. Rather than give the horse to Junior, TMS is partnering with Victory Therapy Center in nearby Roanoke. The facility is a therapeutic horse ranch that serves people with disabilities, veterans and first responders. A horse named “Chevy” will be renamed in Junior’s honor and TMS will sponsor the animal as a salute to Junior Nation.

Dale Jr. scored his first career XFINITY Series victory at TMS in the Coca-Cola 300 on April 4, 1998. His breakthrough win came in his 16th career start. Junior one-upped that with his first Cup victory in the DIRECTV 500 on April 2, 2000, a career-changing moment shared in an emotional Victory Lane with his father, seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. Junior became the first Cup Series rookie driver to win at TMS, which played host to its first NASCAR weekend in April 1997.

As a lasting memory of that Cup win, Gossage presented Junior with the original scoring pylon from the race, with his No. 8 locked into P1. “That’s it. That is THE one that came off the scoring tower,” Gossage said.

“That’s something else,” said Junior, perennially voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. “The track…there’s nothing unusual about the place other than Eddie’s been an amazing promoter. He’s always kind of pushing the envelope and he means well, I’ve learned. Sometimes I wonder…”

As a final gift, Junior and his wife were presented a “Tot Rod” stroller designed as a pink-and-white ’55 Chevy convertible. “This is for you and Amy and the little one to-be,” Gossage said. “This was built in seven days for the new Little Earnhardt, an early wedding shower gift.

“So, with all the integrity and seriousness that a man sitting on a horse inside a building can offer, I want to thank for what you’ve done for the sport. We appreciate everything you have contributed. God bless you.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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