MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. had twice the luck on track with him before the green flag dropped ahead of his likely final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
Leading the field in the pace car, Amy Earnhardt, who is pregnant with the couple’s baby girl, wheeled her way around the .526-mile track like a natural … and with a smile from ear-to-ear.
“It was incredible,” Amy Earnhardt told NASCAR.com. “I had no idea what it was going to be like. Everyone told me that the perspective of the (track) was going to be the best part, and they were totally right.”
That was SO fun!
— Amy Earnhardt (@AmyEarnhardt) October 29, 2017
It’s not unusual for the drivers behind the pace car to give an innocent tap. Martin Truex Jr., good friends with Dale and Amy, qualified second for the First Data 500 and started on the front row. He told Earnhardt to check her rearview mirror just in case she saw the No. 78 coming behind her.
“He threatened to, and he got pretty close a couple of times, but he didn’t,” she said laughing. “He was easy on me.”
With the Earnhardt family expanding by one, all eyes were on the track when Amy wheeled the pace car off pit row. It was the first time the littlest Earnhardt would take a ride in a race car — and it may not be the last, either.
“I’m not sure if she’ll be into or racing or not,” Amy Earnhardt said. “We’ll just have to see, but she got to go for a ride around the race track with me, so that’s pretty neat.”
Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said having Amy as the honorary pace car driver was a way to give back to Dale Jr. for all of his contributions to the Virginia track, and for everything he has done for NASCAR.
“The Earnhardt family has meant so much to Martinsville Speedway through the years, Dale in particular, and we wanted for him to be able to share his last Cup race here with the person closest to him,” Campbell said. “Dale has often talked about how much Amy has meant to him and this is one small way in which we can say thank you to the both of them; to Dale for what he has meant to the sport and to Amy for what she has meant to Dale.”