Another Earnhardt for the NASCAR Hall of Fame?

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC USA Thursday 25 May 2017 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Hendrick Motorsports, Nationwide Patriotic Chevrolet SS World Copyright: John K Harrelson NKP

CONCORD, N.C. –  In his final season of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won’t be eligible for the NASCAR Hall of Fame until the class of 2021, but the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS is already looking in that direction.

“I’ll admit that I look through the list of all-time winners and look at the ones that are in the Hall of Fame and look where my name is and see how many guys are in front of me and how many are probably going to get in, will I ever get in, and all that stuff,” Earnhardt said on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It must be a tremendous emotional piece of relief and satisfaction to get that kind of reward. I watched really closely when Mark (Martin) got going in there last year, and it just seemed to really validate all the work. Even the stuff he did before he got to Cup. It really just kind of sealed… it brought some closure, I guess, to his career.

If Earnhardt has any doubt about his own Hall of Fame status, here’s some reassurance. He has 26 victories at NASCAR’s highest level, the same as NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen. Two of Earnhardt’s victories came in the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s most prestigious race.

Add to that everything NASCAR’s perennial most popular driver has done for stock car racing and aspiring racers as a car owner.

The bottom line? Earnhardt is more than likely to join his father, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, in the shrine for the sport’s elite competitors.