Talladega gave Dale Earnhardt, Jr. one of the best going-away gifts he could have ever imagined.
Track officials and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame presented Dale Jr. with the keys to the 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that his father, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. drove to the Rookie of the Year title.
"This car is a 1979 Monte Carlo," a beaming Earnhardt Jr. told NBC after taking the car for a spin on the 2.66-mile Talladega layout. "Dad drove this car in his rookie season; he probably ran it in his championship season too in 1980."
NASCAR.com reports Dale, Jr. took the blue and yellow #2 for a couple laps around the track that has been the site of so many successes for both he and his dad. And then he made a side trip through the Monster Energy Series garage.
"I got to take it for a couple of laps; that was fun. I drove it through the garage so all the guys on the team could see it. Pretty neat just trying to imagine what it would be like running one of them around here at 180-190 miles an hour."
Dale, Jr. runs his final race at Talladega on Sunday in the Alabama 500, where he hopes his 6 victories there turn into lucky #7.