On cusp of 40th birthday, Dale Jr. hopes next 40 years will be just as good

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. is certainly no longer a kid. But it still seems strange that he’s going to be turning 40 years old next week.

No doubt that he’s matured, though, both on and off the race track.

And as he prepares to hit the big 4-0, the son of the seven-time Sprint Cup champion, Dale Sr., is feeling good with what he’s done on the race tracks of the world.

Growing up, he wondered if the Intimidator’s legacy would make it harder for him to succeed in the sport.

But one could argue that Junior has become every bit as vital to NASCAR as his father was.

“I just wanted to make it and being the son of a guy that was so successful – the more success he had it seemed like the harder it would be for me to make it,” Junior said today at Kansas Speedway. “I would just be sort of a chapter in that whole thing. But I’m real happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish and who I have been able to work with and the friends I’ve been able to make.

“That is probably the best thing is the relationships that you create. Being a part of this sport there are so many great people in it, no matter what department you talk about. It’s just fun getting to know all those people that helped get this thing going and move it from race to race.”

And while Junior has yet to join Senior as a Cup champ, he feels that his list of accomplishments – which include two Nationwide Series titles, two Daytona 500 victories, and status as the most recognizable racer in America – has turned out to be much longer than he expected.

“We are still winning races and running good so maybe we can get a few more wins and have some more fun before it’s over,” he said.

“Definitely having this birthday come up makes you reflect quite a bit back on not so much the decisions or any regrets you have, just the fun stuff you have done and is the next 40 years going to be just as good? Because the first 40 were pretty great.”

Junior will get to celebrate his milestone birthday before next Saturday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with fans welcome to join the party with the purchase of a pre-race pit pass or driver intro pass along with their regular race ticket (more details here).

But that comes later. This weekend, Junior hopes to put a sub-par Challenger Round behind him with a solid run in the Contender Round opener on Kansas’ 1.5-mile oval.

“We feel like we are not realizing our potential and I think it is obvious we are not realizing our potential,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to sort of get back into the championship battle.

“Had they not structured it so, I don’t know that we would be feeling too confident about our chances at this point. Now it’s all back to zero. We can get regrouped and get confident again and come out of here with a great finish, we are back in it.”

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

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With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list