Jeffrey Has Earned His Shot
Updated: Apr 29
Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, made headlines in a big way during the Xfinity race at Talladega. He qualified on pole, led ten laps, and finished second, while running in a black no.3 car.
This admirable performance provided NASCAR fans with a nostalgic sight; an Earnhardt holding the reins of a black no.3 car at the front of the Talladega pack. Jeffrey even had Dale Earnhardt's old crew chief, Larry McReynolds, on top of the pit box, which only deepened the authenticity of the spectacle. The race enjoyed television ratings higher than any Xfinity event since 2017.
Now that the race is over and the dust has settled, one question remains unanswered: what is next for Jeffrey Earnhardt?
The thirty-two-year-old journeyman NASCAR driver has been relentless in his pursuit of success, yet it was during this seemingly one-off for RCRs Xfinity program that he got closest to achieving it, as the second-place finish was his best result across any of NASCARs top three divisions.
Although Jeffrey has made 76 cup starts dating back to 2015, 136 Xfinity starts going back to 2009, and ten truck starts from 2010-11, few of those starts have been in equipment capable of winning races. Aside from this opportunity with RCR, his only other big break was back in 2019 when he signed to race for Joe Gibbs Racing and the ill-fated XCI racing. Before the deal collapsed due to sponsorship issues, Jeffrey made seven Xfinity starts, securing one top-five and three top-tens. Jeffrey also made one cup start, at Talladega, where he finished 22nd. The highlights of this stint included a third-place at Charlotte, and leading 29 laps at Daytona.
The unfortunate demise of this encouraging effort highlights an issue that has plagued Jeffrey's career; he has ran only one full season, which was eight years ago in 2014 for Johnny Davis. Every other effort he has put forward for a season has either been part-time or rendered incomplete due to DNQs. The lack of consistency with any team or manufacturer has often left Earnhardt in an endless loop of searching for his next ride, a process he finds himself in today. Jeffrey has not lost hope, but recognizes that he needs to put things together quickly.
“I'm not getting any younger… You look at the ages of people in our sport, I’m old. It’s time to either make it happen or not.” (Albino)
Between his outstanding performance at Talladega, and his stout efforts when previously putting in race-winning equipment, it is clear that Earnhardt is ready and deserving of a full-season effort in a competitive car.
“My goal is to win an Xfinity Series championship.. I want to try to make that happen within the next couple of years. I think I’m capable of it given the right opportunity.” (Albino)
More eyes are on Jeffrey Earnhardt than ever before, meaning that the coming weeks and months are his best chance to ink a full-season deal for the 2023 season with a competitive team. If his shot is ever going to come, the time is now, and although that chance could come from a number of teams, imagine if in 2023 he was back behind the wheel of a black no.3.
Albino, Dustin.“Jeffrey Earnhardt Seeing Results after Betting on Himself in 2022.” Official Site of NASCAR, 27 Apr. 2022, www.nascar.com/news-media/2022/04/27/jeffrey-earnhardt-seeing-results-after-betting-on-himself-in-2022/.