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March 5, 2021

Dale Jr. takes restored Nova for a drive, gets set for Darlington pace-lap duty

2021 March5 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nova Main Image

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his father’s newly restored Chevrolet Nova racer out for a spin Friday as the black and silver No. 8 rumbled back to life. The sound should be sweet music when the car takes a more public drive in two months, right back at home at Darlington Raceway.

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Earnhardt indicated Friday that the vintage car is set to be part of NASCAR Throwback Weekend on May 7-9 at the South Carolina track, leading the pace laps for the May 8 race for the Xfinity Series. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was a three-time Darlington winner in the series, and twice drove a GM Goodwrench-sponsored No. 8 to Victory Lane there.

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The No. 8 Nova has undergone a painstakingly thorough restoration at the JR Motorsports fabrication shop, a process that Earnhardt Jr. has documented in great detail on social media. He indicated that the car was once bodied as a Pontiac Ventura, and confirmed its authenticity through the use of archival photos.

Earnhardt Jr. won 24 times in his Xfinity Series career and was the tour’s champion in consecutive years (1998-99). His father is credited with 21 victories on that circuit since its rise to a national series in 1982.

The car’s planned Darlington appearance won’t be the first time a NASCAR Hall of Famer has presided over the pace laps in a historic car. Richard Petty was a memorable part of the 2017 Throwback Weekend, when he was black-flagged for taking one pace lap too many in his No. 43 Plymouth Belvedere.