2018 Memorable Moments Countdown No. 4: Dale Jr. Rides Again at Richmond

Ron Lemasters | 12/18/2018

2018 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hellmann's Memorable Moments News Richmond XFINITY Series

One of the most anticipated races of the season is our fourth most memorable moment of 2018, when Dale Jr. returned to racing at Richmond.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 18, 2018) - Though he retired as a full-time driver at the end of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fully intended to race for his own team, JR Motorsports. When he reported for duty at Richmond in the fall of this year, there was a definite buzz in the air.

Dale Jr. was back on the grid.

It wasn’t a surprise: the event had been scheduled even before he announced he would be getting out of the cockpit and into a broadcaster’s booth for NBC Sports. Hellmann’s, which was on the No. 88 Chevrolet back in 2016 when Earnhardt Jr. won the Richmond race for JRM (his first victory in a JRM car, by the way), was on the car again, and for a while, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of that 2016 triumph.

There were no expectations that night, according to Dale Jr.

“I just want to run all the laps, have fun out there and enjoy driving the car,” he said.

He did a lot more than that, leading a race-high 96 laps from second on the grid and earned the first stage win of his career on the way to a fourth-place finish. It could have been better in the final stage, as he took the green flag in second place following a caution period on lap 220, but handling issues cropped up and put him back to fifth in the late going. Earnhardt Jr. gained a spot back in the run to the checkered to earn his fourth-place finish.

It was his sixth top-five finish in eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Richmond, and the laps he led pushed his career total to 829, a career best for him at any track. He was also the highest-finishing JRM driver on the night.

“We didn’t have the car at the end,” he said after the race. “Restarting on the outside was kind of tough. Just didn’t have what we needed right there. I’m glad we got to lead a lot of laps and we ran real good for Hellmann’s and all the people that came out to watch us. We had fun. We’ll try and do another one next year. It’ll be with Hellmann’s again and I’m looking forward to figuring out what race that’s gonna be.”

That race will be announced at a later date. This race, with a fourth-place finish, was one of the more Memorable Moments for his namesake team in 2018.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • February 16 02:30 PM ET
    Daytona 300Daytona International Speedway
  • February 23 02:00 PM ET
    Rinnai 250Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • March 2 04:00 PM ET
    Boyd Gaming 300Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • March 9 04:00 PM ET
    Xfinity Series 200 at PhoenixISM Raceway
  • March 16 05:00 PM ET
    Xfinity Series 300 at FontanaAuto Club Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Ford EcoBoost 300*

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/17/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick (P)40400
2Cole Custer (P)4035-5
3Daniel Hemric (P)4033-7
4Christopher Bell # (P)4026-14
5Elliott Sadler2255-1785
6Matt Tifft2254-1786
7Justin Allgaier2251-1789
14Michael Annett632-3408