If you still need proof of how much Dale Earnhardt Jr. means to NASCAR, look no further than Ford’s tribute to the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet.
Everybody from fans, to drivers and even former sponsors has wished Earnhardt well in the buildup to his final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, but the most unexpected tribute the career Chevrolet racer received came from Ford. Ahead of Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the “Blue Oval” gathered six of its NASCAR racers — Ryan Blaney, Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — as well as Formula Drift driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. to honor Earnhardt.
Ford gave them two Mustang GT coupes, set up four pylons and told them to give Earnhardt a smokey sendoff.
Considering Ford and Chevy essentially are motorsport’s equivalent of baseball’s Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry, it takes a special personality to cause one of the manufacturers to extend an olive branch.
Perhaps Kelley Earnhardt was right to suggest her brother’s retirement is to racing what Derek Jeter’s was to Major League Baseball.