Earnhardt Jr. thrills lucky fans at Charlotte with a little help from Smoke and Gus

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't raced since New Hampshire in July. (Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't raced since New Hampshire in July. (Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t raced since New Hampshire in July. (Getty Images)

He may not be racing, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. did visit Charlotte Motor Speedway Tuesday night. NASCAR’s most popular driver was at the speedway to support a fundraiser for his Dale Jr. Foundation.

The program gives fans who won with bids for the foundation, a ride with the NASCAR star around the 1.5 speedway in a specially designed two-seat NASCAR style racecar.  The high bids for the rides hovered around $8000 each.

According to its website the Dale Jr. Foundation is a charity dedicated to giving underprivileged individuals with a focus on youth, the resources to improve their confidence and education, and the opportunity to achieve extraordinary goals.

There was a bit of a glitch however.  Hendrick Motorsports announced last month that Earnhardt would miss the final 12 races of the season as he continues to recover from concussion like symptoms.  He was involved in two crashes this season, one at Michigan and the other at Daytona. Doctors believe the crash at Michigan in June caused his latest issue.

Earnhardt hasn’t raced since New Hampshire in July and getting back into a racecar isn’t something he can do right now.  Tuesday night’s fundraiser however went on as planned, with a substitute driver.  Three time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart showed up at the track and took the fans on their rides.  Later on social media, Earnhardt thanked Stewart, who will race at Charlotte for the last time as a full time competitor Saturday night.

“We were in a bind and needed some help and the person that volunteered to come in and drive the car was Tony Stewart,” Earnhardt said in a Twitter video message. “So, on behalf of the foundation, Tony, thank you for helping us be able to raise the money tonight that we raised and give these people that paid that money the ride of their life.”

Also Tuesday night, Earnhardt had another friend along, his faithful dog, Gus. Prior to the event, Earnhardt posted a photo of Gus leaving a “gift” on the infield grass along the frontstretch at Charlotte.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Bank of America 500 is scheduled for this Saturday night.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.