Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 race-winning car is No. 1 NASCAR die-cast seller in 2014

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For those who may have thought die-cast replicas of NASCAR cars had faded away from the height of their popularity in the 1990s and up to about 2005, guess again.

Lionel Racing, which is the Official Die-Cast manufacturer of NASCAR, announced Friday that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 Race Win die-cast was the best-selling car of 2014.

Not only that, that same car is now the best-selling die-cast in the company’s history.

Wait, there’s more, particularly for members of the Junior Nation:

Six of the top 10 best-selling NASCAR die-casts this year are tied to Earnhardt in one form or other. He earned the No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10 spots on the top 10 list, several due to special paint schemes for particular races.

“When the NASCAR season kicks off with Dale Jr. winning the Daytona 500, it’s a safe bet that die-cast sales across the board will skyrocket,” Lionel Racing president Howard Hitchcock said in a media release. “His win really set the tone for our year overall – we have had a very good season.”

Among the most notable was Earnhardt’s National Guard/Superman paint scheme, Lionel said.

Austin Dillon bringing back the iconic No. 3 Chevrolet to the Sprint Cup Series for the first time since the death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 ranked fourth-best, preventing Junior from sweeping the top 5 spots.

“The story of the #3 car’s return to Cup competition really resonated with both long-time and new NASCAR fans,” Hitchcock said. “It’s great to see a rising star like Dillon make our top 10 list.”

Also of note, 2014 Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet ranked eighth on the top 10 list.

Here’s the list of this year’s top 10-selling NASCAR die-casts:

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard/Daytona 500 Win Chevrolet.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard Hall of Heroes/Superman Chevrolet.

4. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Dow Automotive Chevrolet.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard/Pocono Win Chevrolet/

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 Michael Baker/Pocono Win Chevrolet.

7. Jeff Gordon No. 24 AARP/Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.

8. Kevin Harvick No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet.

9. Tony Stewart No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet.

Also, here’s the best-selling drivers of 2014:

1. Earnhardt. 2. Gordon. 3. Harvick. 4. Jimmie Johnson. 5. Austin Dillon. 6. Chase Elliott. 7. Stewart. 8. Kyle Busch. 9. Brad Keselowski. 10. Kyle Larson.

“It’s exciting to see the rising stars of the sport make such an impact on the core fan,” Hitchcock said. “Austin, Chase and Kyle Larson beat out some heavy hitters when it comes to merchandise sales, and that only bodes well for the future of NASCAR.”

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Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”