For the first time in nearly a year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the center of attention in a NASCAR race.
The retired driver made a one-off return to racing Friday night, finishing fourth in the the NASCAR Xfinity Series GoBowling 250 at Richmond Raceway. Earnhardt, who drove the No. 88 Hellman’s Chevrolet for his own team, JR Motorsports, led a race-high 96 laps before watching Christopher Bell take the checkered flag.
As Earnhardt was exiting the track, he was swarmed by a mob of adoring fans hoping for one last autograph and picture with their favorite driver.
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Here are some other sights and sounds from Earnhardt’s return to the track:
One of the most emotional moments of the night occurred shortly after the race, when Earnhardt and close friend Elliott Sadler embraced each other on pit road. Sadler recently announced he will retire after this season.
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NASCAR will be hard-pressed to find a better interview than Earnhardt.
The 43-year-old said he would like to race again in the future, should the opportunity prevent itself.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Laberge/Getty Images