Donnie Allison, two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner and original member of the famed Alabama Gang, will lead the field to green in Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s historic No. 2 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Sunday’s Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) playoff race. The blue and yellow, white numeral machine was driven by Dale Sr. during the 1979 and 1980 MENCS seasons and was presented to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as a retirement gift from the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Talladega Superspeedway on Friday.
“I had some fierce battles on the track with Dale Sr. over the years, so I am honored to drive one of his famous race cars for Dale Jr.’s final race at Talladega,” said Allison, who will be behind the wheel of the car that carried Earnhardt Sr. to the ‘79 NASCAR Rookie of the Year and ‘80 NASCAR Championship. “From helping set the foundation of Dale Jr.’s race career to his final laps at Talladega, this is a moment I will never forget.” Over the course of 1979-80, Dale Sr. won six races, all of which Allison competed (best finish in those events was fifth).
Allison has had a close relationship with Dale Jr. since his youth. In 1992, when Dale Sr. wanted his son to learn the nuts and bolts of how a race car was built from the ground up, he asked him to be his mentor. At just 17 years old, Dale Jr., went to work with Allison Brothers Race Cars in Salisbury, NC., which built Legends Series race cars. Over the next six months, Dale Jr. built the foundation of his racing career gaining first-hand knowledge with Donnie along with his sons, Donald, Kenny and Ronald. Dale Jr., a six-time ‘Dega winner, was named an Honorary Member of the famed original Alabama Gang by founding members Bobby & Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer last fall.
“They really taught me everything, as far as the basics from the ground up,” Dale Jr. said of his years working for the Allisons. “I really learned a little bit of everything from those guys – use a torch, learn how to cut and weld. I was able to take that (knowledge) back to my father and prove that I had what it took (to become a driver).”
Dale Jr. is the winningest active driver at Talladega, the track he calls a second home, with his six triumphs, including four consecutives from the fall of 2001 through the spring of 2003. On Talladega’s All-Time Wins List, he tails only his father, Dale Sr., who has ten career victories at the famous 2.66-mile tri-oval.
The legacy of the Earnhardt family at Talladega is part of NASCAR’s storied history. Dale Jr. looks to add to his family’s history at NASCAR’s Biggest and Baddest track with a victory in Sunday’s Alabama 500 (1 p.m. CDT), the “Wildcard” second race in the Round of 12 of the MENCS playoffs.
There is still time to secure your tickets for Dale Jr.’s final Talladega stop on the #Appreci88ion Tour. The Alabama 500 gets the green flag at 1 p.m. (CDT) tomorrow afternoon. Go to talladegasuperspeedway.com or call the track’s ticket office at 855-518-RACE (7223).