Dale Earnhardt Jr’s first ride in a NASCAR Cup Series car came outside of America – against his father in Japan!


NASCAR is a sport that has mainly operated within the confines of the United States. This means that it was rare for the sport to leave American soil. However, the 1998 Coca-Cola 500 at Motegi Speedway in Japan did just that. What made this race more special was the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered the Cup Series for the very first time and raced against his father.

To make things even more interesting, the father-son duo raced special Coca-Cola race cars. In this scenario, Dale Sr was driving a red #3 car, bearing the signature Coca-Cola Red Disk Icon. Meanwhile, Dale Jr. was driving the #1 car with the Coca-Cola polar bear on it.

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Speaking about his father’s race, Dale Jr said, “My dad is the reason I’m in this sport. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to, not just as a dad but also as a great racing driver. The most important thing what I’m thinking about right now is that our team is building cars that will be competitive.”

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“It could be really weird the first time I try to pass him on the track if I have a chance to pass him. But it’s something that’s going to be exciting for both of us, I’m sure.

What did Dale Earnhardt Sr. say about the showdown?

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Speaking about his own father, Dale Sr. admitted it was “cool” to face him. So it was quite exciting for him to see his own son following in his footsteps and he was looking forward to facing him at Motegi. It’s also worth noting that both father and son have achieved incredible milestones during this year.

PHOENIX, AZ – Nov. 6, 1999: Despite finishing second to Jeff Gordon in the Outback Steakhouse 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (L) and his father Dale Earnhardt (R) had plenty of reason to celebrate, as young Earnhardt won the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series championship even though there was still one race to go the following week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

When the season started, Dale Earnhardt finally achieved his dream of winning his first Daytona 500. That same year, Dale Jr won the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Championship.

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WATCH THIS STORY: “A lifetime dedicated to building our sport” – From Jimmie Johnson to Chase Elliott, the NASCAR community honors Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr.

From the fans’ point of view, it was a dream come true, as they got to see Dale and Dale Jr go head-to-head.

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