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February 12, 2023

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ‘humbled’ after tough day at Florence Motor Speedway’s Icebreaker


Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbs out of his car after the Icebreaker event at Florence Motor Speedway.
Jaylynn Nash
for NASCAR Roots

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. — Early Saturday morning, Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled into Florence Motor Speedway with high hopes. High hopes that the rainy forecast would subside for the annual Icebreaker event and also hopes of a strong finish for his JR Motorsports No. 3 Chevrolet — and when it was all said and done, only the former happened.

Earnhardt wheeled his car to near perfection in the morning’s lone practice session, ranking atop the leaderboards that featured a stacked lineup of some of the best Late Model racers in the region. Racing alongside teammate Carson Kvapil in the No. 8 Bass Pro Shops entry, the outlook was bright for the pairing to have a solid result.

But when qualifying came around, Earnhardt qualified mid-pack and was struggling through the early parts of the race in a tense battle for every position on the race track. In the end, it cost him.

PHOTOS: Best scenes from Florence

“The weather turned out to work out for us; what did not work out was how the race car drove,” Earnhardt Jr. said on Twitter after the race. “I didn’t do a good job. … Just burned the rear tires off of it. Thought I was riding, thought I was saving what I needed but when it came time to go at the end, we didn’t have anything left.”

After a relatively clean race from the field, the closing laps saw a flurry of cautions that resulted in severe hood damage to Earnhardt’s Mom ‘N’ Pops Chevrolet. He went on to cross the finish line in 17th, though he was awarded another position after post-race inspection was complete.

“You’re gonna show up and get your butt kicked some days and be humbled, and this is one of those days,” said Earnhardt. “We’ll try to get it going and next time we get behind the wheel, do a better job.”

MORE: Dale Jr. competing in Xfinity Series race at Bristol | Now co-owner of the CARS Tour

Former Late Model ace and current Xfinity Series driver for JR Motorsports, Josh Berry, has continued to be supportive of Earnhardt racing in the grassroots series and knows how hard the transition is for him.

“I know he’s enjoyed coming back and racing these cars,” said Berry in an interview with NASCAR.com after the race. “It’s a big step from him, coming back to do this after racing Cup (Series) cars for so long. But it’s been fun. He’s had fun and I’ve enjoyed being a part of it and we’ll keep doing it, keep getting better and hopefully one of these days we can win one of these things.”

Berry won the 2022 Icebreaker at Florence and serves as a crew chief for Earnhardt whenever he decides to race Late Models. His experience and passion for this level of racing are evident, after spending so many years making his name at the local arenas.

“I just love this type of racing, love the grassroots, love all these tracks,” Berry said. “I mean, this is what I’ve done for the last decade. I enjoy coming out here every chance I get and it’s always fun. So, hopefully, we can keep doing it for years.”

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