Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with two races in 2023. This includes an event at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 15 where he will showcase a special scheme.
The No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro, which Earnhardt revealed on May 25 during the JR Motorsports fan day, features a yellow and blue scheme with Hellmann’s Mayonnaise logos on the hood and sides. The sponsor is nothing new for Earnhardt, but the color combination throws it back to the Wrangler car that his father raced.
This color scheme is not an exact recreation of the Wrangler scheme, but there are similarities. It also marks a significant change from the normal Hellmann’s scheme that the Hall of Famer uses for his limited Xfinity Series schedule. For example, the No. 88 that Earnhardt drove at Martinsville Speedway in 2022 had a white base with blue and yellow accents.
The September Race Takes Earnhardt Back to 2017
Earnhardt, a two-time Xfinity Series champion, did not spend much time in the second-tier series after his move up to the Cup Series, nor has he done so after his retirement from full-time NASCAR competition.
Earnhardt made two starts in 2016 and two in 2017 before moving to only one race each season from 2018 until 2022. he will now move back to two races for the 2023 season, which will both take place during the second half of the schedule.
This start on September 15 will mark the first time since the 2017 season that Earnhardt has competed at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Tennessee short track was the site of his first start of the Xfinity Series season that year, and he finished 13th overall after starting 17th.
The Bristol race in September will be Earnhardt’s 13th start at the track in the Xfinity Series. He has historically performed well at the short track with nine top-10 finishes, seven top-fives, and one win from the 2004 season.
The Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Will Have Added Intensity
The race at Bristol Motor Speedway will mark the return of Earnhardt to the Xfinity Series. It will also serve as the official start of the opening round of the 2023 playoffs.
There are 12 drivers that will enter the race weekend in search of the all-important win that will punch their ticket to the Round of Eight. Taking care of business early means that they will not have to worry about a win at Texas Motor Speedway or the Charlotte Roval, which should only ratchet up the intensity.
So far, only five have officially secured a spot in the opening round of the playoffs. Austin Hill did so with his series-leading three wins while points leader John Hunter Nemechek solidified his own spot with two wins.
Jeb Burton locked up a spot with a win at Talladega Superspeedway while Chandler Smith did so at Richmond Raceway. Sammy Smith rounds out the group with his win at Phoenix Raceway.
Two other drivers have won Xfinity Series races in 2023, but they are not eligible for the playoffs. Kyle Larson, who won at Darlington Raceway, competes full-time in the Cup Series. Ryan Truex, who won at Dover Motor Speedway, is only running a limited schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing.