September 11, 2001. It’s a date that all Americans will never forget.

September 23, 2001 is a date that most folks in the U.S., aside from hardcore NASCAR fans, may not be as familiar with, but it was on this day that NASCAR had its first Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway following the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It was also an extremely memorable day for Dale Earnhardt Jr., as it marked his first win — and only win throughout his NASCAR Cup Series career — at Dover. It’s hard not to get chills watching Dale Jr. do a victory lap around the Delaware racetrack as he proudly displays the American flag out of the window of his Chevrolet race car.

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In a video released back in 2017 as part of his JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour, Junior looked back on this emotional moment, which also marked his fourth Cup Series win.

“There’s only these rare times when – no matter where you came from, who you were, what your job was, what your status was – you all were on the same page, and you all had the same feeling and attitude,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. says in the video. “Going back to the race track, being at Dover, going through that process, seeing the reaction of the fans – all that was sort of the beginning of things being put back together.”


Junior continues, “There’s these times when this country really comes together hard, you know, and when we really bond and get behind the same purpose.”

“Nobody knew how to act or what was the right thing to do or how we were supposed to respond, and the whole country was really sort of in shock and couldn’t believe that this had happened. Everybody was kind of coming out and commenting on what they were gonna do – the NFL, I didn’t think we were going to put off two race weekends.”

“The attitude amongst NASCAR and what you were hearing outside of NASCAR was that we need to be doing what we’re doing or what we’re supposed to be doing. This isn’t going to stop what we do or how we live or how we act. Just a lot of patriotism – red, white and blue. There (were) a ton of American flags everywhere. Everywhere you turned there was a reminder or evidence of what the country had gone through, was going through, what everybody’s attitude was about it, and it sort of built up over the weekend. And it was emotional. It was heavy.”

As a broadcaster for NBC, Junior will likely go on to call iconic moments such as the one he was a part of all those years ago. But, we have a feeling that, for Dale, few things will be able to top that special day in 2001.


2001 MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 Race Results

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt Inc. — No. 8 Chevrolet

2. Jerry Nadeau — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 25 Chevrolet

3. Ricky Rudd — Robert Yates Racing — No. 28 Ford

4. Jeff Gordon — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 24 Chevrolet

5. Tony Stewart — Joe Gibbs Racing — No. 20 Pontiac

6. Kevin Harvick — Richard Childress Racing — No. 29 Chevrolet

7. Joe Nemechek — Andy Petree Racing — No. 33 Chevrolet

8. Sterling Marlin — Chip Ganassi Racing — No. 40 Dodge

9. Casey Atwood — Evernham Motorsports — No. 19 Dodge

10. Bobby Hamilton — Andy Petree Racing — No. 55 Chevrolet

11. Rusty Wallace — Penske Racing South — No. 2 Ford

12. Dale Jarrett — Robert Yates Racing — No. 88 Ford

13. Jimmy Spencer — Carter-Haas Motorsports — No. 26 Ford

14. Elliott Sadler — Wood Brothers Racing — No. 21 Ford

15. Todd Bodine — Carter-Haas Motorsports — No. 66 Ford

16. Kevin Lepage — Morgan-McClure Motorsports — No. 4 Chevrolet

17. Terry Labonte — Hendrick Motorsports — No. 5 Chevrolet

18. Ken Schrader — MB2 Motorsports — No. 36 Pontiac

19. John Andretti — Petty Enterprises — No. 43 Dodge


20. Mike Skinner — Richard Childress Racing — No. 31 Chevrolet

21. Jeff Burton — Roush Racing — No. 99 Ford


22. Kenny Wallace — Dale Earnhardt Inc. — No. 1 Chevrolet

23. Mike Wallace — Ultra Motorsports — No. 7 Ford

24. Stacy Compton — Melling Racing — No. 92 Dodge

25. Hut Stricklin — Donlavey Racing — No. 90 Ford

26. Ricky Craven — PPI Motorsports — No. 32 Ford

27. Hermie Sadler — SCORE Motorsports — No. 13 Chevrolet

28. Brett Bodine — Brett Bodine Racing — No. 11 Ford

29. Matt Kenseth — Roush Racing — No. 17 Ford

30. Bill Elliott — Evernham Motorsports — No. 9 Dodge

31. Johnny Benson Jr. — MBV Motorsports — No. 10 Pontiac

32. Mark Martin — Roush Racing No. 6 Ford

33. Ward Burton — Bill Davis Racing — No. 22 Dodge

34. Ron Hornaday Jr. — A.J. Foyt Racing — No. 14 Pontiac

35. Dave Blaney — Bill Davis Racing — No. 93 Dodge

36. Bobby Labonte — Joe Gibbs Racing — No. 18 Pontiac

37. Robert Pressley — Jasper Motorsports — No. 77 Ford

38. Buckshot Jones — Petty Enterprises — No. 44 Dodge

39. Michael Waltrip — Dale Earnhardt Inc. — No. 15 Chevrolet

40. Andy Houston — PPI Motorsports — No. 96 Ford

41. Kurt Busch — Roush Racing — No. 97 Ford

42. Jeremy Mayfield — Penske Racing South — No. 12 Ford

43. Kyle Petty — Petty Enterprises — No. 45 Dodge

This post was originally published on September 11, 2018.

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