Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have finished 34th at his final NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway back in 2017, but the pre-race festivities likely salvaged a disappointing finish, as Dale's wife Amy got a chance to drive the pace car.
"It was incredible," Amy Earnhardt told NASCAR.com, following the late October race. "I had no idea what it was going to be like. Everyone told me that the perspective of the (track) was going to be the best part, and they were totally right."
Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell added, "The Earnhardt family has meant so much to Martinsville Speedway through the years, Dale in particular, and we wanted for him to be able to share his last Cup race here with the person closest to him."
"Dale has often talked about how much Amy has meant to him and this is one small way in which we can say thank you to the both of them; to Dale for what he has meant to the sport and to Amy for what she has meant to Dale."
While it's usual customary for front row drivers to give the pace car a little bump (Junior himself was on the receiving end of that, when Kyle Busch bumped him at the 2018 Brickyard 400), Amy made it out bump free. Martin Truex Jr., who had qualified second for the First Data 500, teased a potential bump ahead of race day. Fortunately for Amy, Truex, who's good friends with the Earnhardts, decided to hold back.
"He threatened to, and he got pretty close a couple of times, but he didn't," Amy said. "He was easy on me."
At the time of Amy's pace car driver stint, she was actually newly pregnant with Isla Rose Earnhardt, who's now almost three years old. Isn't it crazy how time flies?!
"I'm not sure if she'll be into or racing or not," Amy Earnhardt said at the time. "We'll just have to see, but she got to go for a ride around the race track with me, so that's pretty neat."
It's still a little too early to tell whether or not Isla Rose will be into racing, but with a baby sister on the way, at least she'll have someone to keep her company while Dad's in the NBC booth!
This post was originally published on October 14, 2020.