Their no. 1 competition to the award was Matt Kenseth
2000 was Earnhardt’s breakout 12 months on Glass Show, he competed on Raybestos NASCAR Novice of the year Award within the 2000. Kenseth outran Earnhardt in the 12 months-starting Daytona five hundred. Earnhardt scored his first earn on the DirecTV five-hundred on Tx Engine Speedway, breaking the number held of the his dad Earnhardt Sr. getting fewest initiate because of the a driver to earn his first win from inside the NASCAR’s “progressive era” by successful in his twelfth start, at Richmond International Raceway. The guy turned the first rookie to help you profit brand new All-Star exhibition race.
Earnhardt played an associate from inside the reproducing one Winston Mug milestone inside 2000 as he competed together with dad and you can 50 % of-sister Kerry regarding the Pepsi eight hundred from the Michigan Around the world Speedway. One to event was only next time you to a dad had raced facing a couple sons – Lee Petty and his awesome one or two sons Richard and you can Maurice got in the past finished the brand new task.
For the 2001, the top knowledge of the year took place into Daytona five hundred. Since Earnhardt and his teammate Michael Waltrip raced into the finish range, the guy done 2nd in order to Waltrip. Their dad had crashed therefore cuatro just after Sterling Marlin generated connection with his kept butt bumper. Earnhardt Sr. raised this new track towards the external wall about Waltrip and their boy and you can compiled Ken Schrader along the way. Earnhardt Sr. is pronounced dry within 5:sixteen pm due to an excellent basilar skull fracture.
Regarding wake, of several disgruntled fans delivered dying threats to help you ing him for the crash; Earnhardt and Waltrip each other expected one to admirers eliminated blaming anybody having Earnhardt Sr.is the reason demise and you may the regional police and NASCAR testing for the the fresh new crash removed Marlin of any involvement. Earnhardt raced at Rockingham the next weekend, however, completed in 43rd-put just after good wreck into the basic lap that checked eerily like his father’s damage just per week earlier. Later regarding seasons, Earnhardt undergone a revival, starting with an emotional profit at the Pepsi eight hundred, that has been plus the basic race stored at Daytona as his dad’s dying.
Earnhardt had the dominating vehicle of your own race, leading 115 of 160 laps. Into last restart, the guy been able to do something out of 6th to first place on the span of a couple laps, which have Waltrip carrying from the career while the Earnhardt grabbed the brand new checkered banner. eight hundred at Dover, that has been the original Mug battle following the September 11 periods given that modern arranged competition from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway are defer before the avoid of the year. Following competition, he did a shine profit lap if you’re carrying a big Western banner from the driver’s side windows.
The guy acquired the fresh new MBNA Cal Ripken Jr
From the Slide, Earnhardt took their second restrictor plate winnings when he obtained the EA Sporting events five-hundred during the Talladega because a crash unfolded to the straight back straightaway you to brought about Bobby Labonte to flip more and also have gathered fifteen other automobiles. The new Talladega win attained Earnhardt a Winston No Bull 5 $1 million incentive. He was docked 25 situations, however, immediately after his vehicles were unsuccessful post-race review. With this win, DEI swept three of one’s four restrictor dish racing to possess 2001, merely failing to winnings brand new springtime Talladega battle. The guy complete the fresh 2001 year eighth regarding the points standings with about three wins, nine Greatest 5s, and you may fifteen Most useful tens, together with one or two poles.
In the 2002, Earnhardt Jr. had an excellent roller-coaster season. The guy struggled after enduring an effective concussion out-of a head-with the collision to the exterior wall structure from the California competition inside the April – a personal injury the guy failed to know to help you up to mid-September. On the around three races following Ca, the guy accomplished zero much better than 30th. Although not, Earnhardt Jr. rallied to help you brush both Talladega racing (best a prominent 133 regarding 188 laps on spring race), a couple of Bud Rod Honours and you may an 11th-put become in the standings having eleven best-fives and you will 16 most useful-10 closes.