Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join his late father at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2021 after receiving 76% of the vote in his first year.
Mike Stefanik, who was killed in a plane crash last year, and Red Farmer, an 87-year-old man who still runs on short tracks and plans to compete on the Talladega dirt track this weekend before the Cup Series race at the Superspeedway, were elected alongside Earnhardt.
Earnhardt has been named the most popular NASCAR driver for 15 years in a row and ended his career in the Cup Series with 26 wins, including two in the Daytona 500, but has never won the championship.
“I knew that when Dad was dead, I was going to assume most if not all of his fan base and I feel like I took care of that,” he said. “I didn’t waste it, I didn’t waste it, and I’ve also introduced myself to a lot of people who had never heard of Dale Earnhardt. ”
The 45-year-old received the news with his wife and daughter by his side during a recording of his popular podcast.
“Just talking about it is really touching because I eat affirmation,” he said wistfully. “It is so great to know that people think I made an impact. I know what my numbers are and I feel like I was chosen because of that, but also because of the impact I made off the track, as a sport ambassador, ”said said Earnhardt.
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Earnhardt retired from full-time racing after the 2017 season, in part due to several concussions over the years. He finished fifth in the Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami on Sunday, June 14, which is the only event he plans to drive this year and could prove to be his last NASCAR-sanctioned race.
Dale Earnhardt Sr., who died in an accident in the 2001 Daytona 500, was inducted first class from the Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Associated Press contributed to this report