Throwback Thursday: Dale Earnhardt Jr wins rain-shortened Phoenix race

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

By Sarah Handy, Staff Writer

In this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday, Kickin’ The Tires relives when NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 from Phoenix Raceway on November 15, 2015 for Hendrick Motorsports.

In a race that was delayed from day to night due to weather didn’t see all 312 laps completed as it was cut short by 93 laps, but the racing world did see NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr find victory lane for the third time in 2015.

Earnhardt who started the race in the third position and led just 22 laps found himself winning at Phoenix for the third time in his Cup career in his No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

One lap prior to a Turn 3 crash involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Joey Gase, Earnhardt came to pit road for tires and fuel, and ultimately crossed the scoring line at the flag stand before competitor Kevin Harvick who had completely dominated the event leading 143 laps.

Earnhardt ended up playing his cards just right as the other lead lap cars came down pit road for service under yellow, he inherited the race lead ahead of second place Harvick and third place driver Joey Logano.

The veteran driver played his cards just right because as rain came through, NASCAR decided to call the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 from Phoenix Raceway official making Earnhardt the race winner for the 26th time in his Cup career.

“We had an idea that the rain was in the area, but all the circumstances that played out at the end of the race are just kind of luck, I think,” Earnhardt said. “I want to give (crew chief) Greg (Ives) a lot of credit, and the guys.

Where Dale Jr is now:

After retiring from full-time racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series following the 2017 season, Earnhardt joined NASCAR on NBC as an analyst.

Earnhardt did return to Xfinity Series competition in 2018 at Richmond Raceway in a race he dominated leading 96 of 250 laps but after a late race restart would ultimately finish 4th.

In 2019, Earnhardt competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 from Darlington Raceway at the end of August. Earnhardt went on to finish fifth in the event after starting 14th on the grid.

Read more: Dale Earnhardt Jr reflects on fifth place Darlington Raceway throwback finish

Earnhardt also owns Jr. Motorsports with his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Rick Hendrick which competes in the Xfinity Series.

The team currently fields full-time rides for the No. 1 of Michael Annett, No. 7 of Justin Allgaier, No. 9 of Noah Gragson and the No. 8 runs with a slew of different drivers including Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt, Ryan Preece, Jeb Burton, Ryan Truex, and Chase Elliott.

Furthermore, as of 2019 Earnhardt is part owner of FilterTime with NASCAR driver Blake Koch. The company sells air filters for your home which are delivered right to your door automatically reminding you to change them.

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