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Dale Earnhardt Jr. targets Martinsville for lone Xfinity Series start of 2022

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced Tuesday his lone NASCAR Xfinity Series start of 2022 will come April 8 at Martinsville Speedway.

The news came in the latest episode of the Dale Jr. Download from his Dirty Mo Media production group and after a shakedown of the Cup Series’ Next Gen car for 2022 at historic Bowman Gray Stadium. Earnhardt retired from full-time Cup Series competition after the 2017 season. In each year since, he has entered one Xfinity Series race per season in a part-time effort with his JR Motorsports team.

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His planned appearance next spring would mark his first Xfinity Series start at the 0.526-mile Virginia oval. The series returned to Martinsville last season after a nearly 14-year hiatus.

JR Motorsports announced Wednesday that Earnhardt will drive the No. 88 Hellmann’s Fridge Hunters Chevrolet at Martinsville. That sponsorship deal includes a renewal with Unilever’s brands for primary backing of JRM’s No. 7 Chevrolet and driver Justin Allgaier in six races next year.

Earnhardt notched the 23rd of his 26 career Cup Series victories in 2014 at Martinsville, claiming the track’s signature grandfather clock trophy. That win marked his last with crew chief Steve Letarte, who now works alongside Earnhardt as a fellow analyst with NBC Sports.

Since 2018, Earnhardt’s four Xfinity Series starts have produced three top-five finishes. He has competed in two one-off starts at Richmond Raceway (2018, 2021), plus single starts at Darlington Raceway (2019) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (2020).