Talladega Superspeedway officials and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame along with the state of Alabama, gave Earnhardt Jr. possession of the 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo his father drove to the Rookie of the Year title that year.
Giving Earnhardt Jr. possession of the car wasn't enough, he was allowed to take a few laps with it on the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
"That was great,” Earnhardt said. “The state of Alabama owns this car. They are going to let us take it to Mooresville, North Carolina and show it off in our shop, so it is going to be great for the guys. I got to take it for a couple of laps. That was fun. Drove it through the garage so all the guys on the team can see it. Pretty neat trying to imagine what it would be like running one of those around here at 180/190 mph.
The legendry Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the first of his seven Cup titles in 1980 while racing for team owner Rod Osterlund.
"This car is a 1979 (Chevrolet) Monte Carlo. Dad drove this car his rookie season, and probably his championship season in 1980,” Earnhardt said. “They ran a Monte Carlo here (at Talladega Superspeedway) in 1979 but they ran an Oldsmobile 442 in 1980. This is the kind of car he drove at Bristol and some of the short tracks as well as the mile-and-a-half tracks.”
"I drove his No. 3 Goodwrench car a couple of times at some tests that first year we were together,” he said. “But never anything this old with some history. I love to be able to sit in the car to see the perspective of what the view is like. So different from our cars today. There are no head rests or anything like that. A lot of air moving around, so pretty crazy.
The car will be on loan to the Dale Jr. for an undetermined amount of time. "I'm pretty surprised," he said. "I didn't think I was going to take home a race car from this weekend. I just have to thank Talladega Superspeedway and the state of Alabama. They have been really good to me. Hopefully we can get them a win this weekend."