Racing fans know all too well when NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the lead during a race.
There’s the roar that suddenly arises through the grandstands, piercing the air over the already-loud sound of exhaust systems, and then often the standing ovation that unfolds like a choreographed routine.
This is especially true at Talladega Superspeedway — or as it’s often dubbed, Earnhardt Country. The place where both Junior and his father Dale Earnhardt have always been held in high esteem, holding a combined 16 wins at the Alabama oval.
NASCAR’s favorite son often sees it, too.
“You can visually see a difference in the grandstands,” Earnhardt told NASCAR.com in June. “At Talladega, for example, when you take the lead. The difference visually between everybody sitting down and everybody standing up with their arms in the air is extremely easy to see.
“You come off of Turn 4, if you get the lead on the back straightaway and going into Turn 1 or something, the next time you come off Turn 4, you see everybody kind of waving their arms in the air and going crazy.”
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It’s something that sticks with Earnhardt, giving him a bit of motivation while out front.
“It kind of makes that pass for the lead a lot more memorable and more fulfilling,” he said. “And it certainly motivates you to try as hard as you can to keep the lead and stay toward the front, keep fans excited and glued to what’s going on.”
So, Junior Nation: Stand up if Dale Jr. takes the lead in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
He’ll likely notice.