Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sets Date for Xfinity Series Return

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Getty Dale Earnhardt Jr. prepares for an Xfinity Series race.

The 15-time Most Popular Driver is about to return to the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro for another race. NASCAR owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join his drivers on Saturday, Sept. 11, for the Go Bowling 250 Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway. He will also do so while honoring victims of 9/11.

JR Motorsports previously confirmed in early May that Earnhardt would make another start in the Xfinity Series, releasing a special video highlighting his new paint scheme. Earnhardt explained that he will partner with Unilever to bring the scheme to life as part of the organization’s United for America campaign. Unilever created this campaign in May 2020 to serve the people and communities most impacted by the pandemic while providing supplies to frontline workers.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that terrible day,” Earnhardt said in a press release. “The spirit of unity and togetherness our country felt on Sept. 11 is just as relevant now as it was then. I’m honored to be driving this car, and championing Unilever’s United for America program.”

Richmond Raceway is celebrating Earnhardt’s return by offering a special ticket package to fans of the driver-owner. They can purchase a ticket that grants access to the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races on Sept. 11, as well as a $25 voucher for the JR Motorsports/Hendrick Motorsports combo merchandise hauler.

Earnhardt Will Replace a Rookie at Richmond

The Hall of Fame inductee will return to the No. 8 for the Sept. 11 race at Richmond, which means that he will make another driver inactive for the week. Rookie Sam Mayer, who took over the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet starting on June 27, will not compete at Richmond while his boss prepares to take the green flag.

JRM did not specifically state that Mayer will not suit up for the race weekend, but the 18-year-old’s official website does not list the track on the calendar. Mayer has all of the previous races he has started, as well as those remaining on his 2021 Xfinity Series schedule. The only date missing is Sept. 11.

Missing one race will not be a detriment to Mayer’s rookie season. He is only competing on a part-time schedule before fighting for a playoff spot in 2022. Mayer will be back with JR Motorsports on a full-time basis next season, but he will be in a different stock car. Josh Berry will take over the No. 8 full-time while Mayer will switch numbers.

Earnhardt Has Run a Limited Schedule Since Retiring

GettyDale Earnhardt Jr. at Homestead-Miami Speedway

A former two-time Xfinity Series champion — when it was the Busch Series — Earnhardt has not raced a full schedule since retiring at the end of the 2017 season. He walked away from the top-level Cup Series with 26 wins and 149 top-fives to his name and joined the NBC Sports booth. Though Earnhardt has continued to make annual starts in the Xfinity Series.

Since the year 2001, Earnhardt has started at least one Xfinity race, adding another 11 wins to his overall mark. He ran nine races in 2008, the most since his back-to-back championships in 1998 and 1999, but has only started one race each year since 2018. His best finish in this stretch was fourth place at Richmond, which he paired with fifth-place finishes at Darlington and Homestead-Miami.

Earnhardt last won an Xfinity Series race in 2016. He headed to Richmond Raceway with his fellow drivers for the ToyotaCare 250. He led 128 of the 140 laps, holding off such names as Daniel Suarez, Cole Custer, Ty Dillon, and Brad Keselowski to take the checkered flag. Now he will have another opportunity to reach Victory Lane while honoring 9/11 victims.

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