The big news story this morning has of course been the passing of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Many people are already mourning the loss of this popular NASCAR driver, but his fans can take some small consolation in knowing that he died doing what he loved most–racing!
Today, he competed in the Food Lion 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, North Carolina. The race was the third of four in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was a day of mixed emotions for the fans, as they got to witness one of the greatest drivers of all time in the final race of his illustrious career.
He started the morning off right, winning the pole position with a qualifying run of 21.581 seconds. The pole position at this year’s race is usually a good indicator of the winner. The pole position at this year’s race is usually a good indicator of the winner. However, even though he still holds record for most laps led in a Cup season (239), he lost the race to a competitor who went on to score one of the biggest upsets in recent sports history.
The victory here today was Jeff Gordon’s first in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Despite the setback, Earnhardt was still able to have a good laugh about it after the race, which is important because when a legend like him is having a good time, the people around them can have a good time too.
The Upset That No One Saw Coming
The biggest story of today’s race was Jimmie Johnson. In the previous two races, Johnson had finished second and sixth. Today was no different, as he started in the top five and battled his way to within three laps of the lead before taking the flag in 8th place. What you may not know is that he battled his way to eighth place today because he was running in the right direction all along!
After starting in 32nd place, he worked his way up to eighth place. He had just pitted and was getting ready for his second run when, all of a sudden, he noticed that a car was in front of him. That’s when he knew that Kurt Busch was going to make a move, so he decided to go on the attack and catch up to the leader, Denny Hamlin.
In the end, he would finish 7th, which was good for 15th place overall. Johnson, a five-time champion, became the first driver in NASCAR history to finish in the top-15 despite starting outside the top-35. The victory here today was Kurt Busch’s first in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. What a way to end the day. He had spent the whole day working his way up from near the back and on the last lap, he attacked the leaders and passed Hamlin and Greg Busch for the lead. It was a great day for him, his team, and Monster Energy!
Last Race, Best Race
This is where things get interesting. Today was the final race of one of the greatest careers in the history of stock car racing. We’ll never forget Dale Earnhardt Jr., but we’ll also remember him for another reason: he brought us unforgettable memories!
We all knew that this was going to be his last race. The question was: would it be his best race? We found out that he didn’t waste any time showing up. He came in with a bang, winning the pole position with a qualifying run of 21.581 seconds. He also led the field in the first two turns before getting into a fight with Martin Truex, Jr. (he was leading at the time).
Earnhardt Jr. led the first 33 laps as well, but after that, it was a battle of wits between him and Truex. On lap 34, Truex took the lead. However, on lap 38, Earnhardt Jr. had an engine issue and dropped to 5th place. He continued to fight for the lead, but on lap 42, he dropped out and gave the victory to Truex. In the end, Earnhardt Jr. finished 8th, scoring his best career result and finishing his career with one of the greatest comebacks in all of sports history. This is certainly one of the most memorable days in the history of sports!
There’s one thing that we all need to keep in mind as we move forward into this new era of NASCAR: it’s not easy being the best! It’s a hard-fought battle for dominance that leads to some incredible highs and some devastating lows. Today, we lost one of the greatest drivers of all time, but we also celebrated one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. That makes it all the more worth it.