Dale Earnhardt Jr. will face the challenging .533-mile all-concrete high banks that lurks inside The Last Great Colosseum for the first time since the 2017 season on Friday night, Sept. 15, when he competes in the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m., USA Network, PRN Radio).
Then, on Saturday, Sept. 16, after he’s finished racing, he will head to the TV booth high above BMS to call the action as part of the USA/NBC Sports team in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, a Round of 16 Playoff race for the Cup Series.
The two-time Xfinity Series champ, who famously coined the phrase “It’s Bristol, Baby!” after winning the 2004 Night Race in the Cup Series at BMS, is scheduled to drive his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevy in the Friday night race under the lights on the famed Northeast Tennessee short track.
“I love the high banks of Bristol,” said Earnhardt Jr., who won his only Xfinity Series race at Bristol in 2004, the Food City 250. “When I was a little boy and watched dad race, out of all the races when I was a kid, the Bristol Night Race was the one I didn’t want to miss. It’s just electric there and I would always beg dad to go to that race.”
Earnhardt Jr. has run at least one Xfinity Series race each year since his retirement to get his racing fix and this year the NASCAR Hall of Famer will elevate his game by running in two Xfinity Series events. In addition to the Food City 300, he recently announced he will also compete in another Xfinity Series race at Homestead Miami on Oct 21.
At Bristol, Earnhardt will drive a blue and yellow Hellmann’s Mayonnaise No. 88 Chevy prepared by crew chief Jason Stockert.
Earnhardt Jr. has a solid Xfinity Series record at Bristol. In 12 career starts he has posted 10 top-10 finishes and 7 top-fives, which includes the memorable ’04 sweep. In his last Xfinity start at Bristol in 2017 he finished 13th after starting 17th. His worst Xfinity finish at BMS was a 22nd place finish in his first attempt in 1997 where he started the race on the outside pole for local team owner Ed Whitaker.
“We are thrilled to have Dale Jr. back in action on the famed high banks in the Food City 300,” said Jerry Caldwell, president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “He is such a legend in the sport and has meant so much to fans in our region. We can’t wait to see him in action on the track in his No. 88 Chevy.”
In addition to Earnhardt’s return, the Food City 300 is also the Playoff opener for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, so the stakes will be high for his four full-time team cars as they chase championship glory. On Saturday, the Bass Pro Shops Night Race will showcase the Cup Series Round of 16 Playoff elimination race, the Bass Pro Shops Night Race (7 p.m., USA Network, PRN Radio). The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will get the fun started on Thursday night, Sept. 14, with the running of the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics (8 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio). The ARCA Menards Series will open Thursday’s racing to make it a doubleheader night with the Bush’s Beans 200 (6 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio).
Off the track there’s tons to do during your Bristol visit with lots of activities available in the BMS Fan Zone and BMS Fan Midway. Kenny Wallace and John Roberts will host Trackside Live at the Food City Fan Zone Stage on Saturday at 4 p.m. where drivers and other newsmakers will be interviewed. Country music band Midland will perform the pre-race concert Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to get the fans revved up for the traditional driver introductions, where each driver enters the stadium to a favorite song or music. There will be post-race entertainment on Thursday and Friday, as DJ Sterl the Pearl will host the world-famous Foam Party after the Thursday night double-header, and country music singer Tim Dugger will perform after Friday night’s Food City 300.
For tickets, please visit the BMS website or call the BMS Ticket Sales Center at (866) 415-4158.