Twin Ring Motegi Race

11/22/1998

Dale Jr. was invited to participate in a historic NASCAR exhibition race in Motegi, Japan, at the end of the 1998 season. Twin Ring Motegi had been constructed only a year earlier to attract the IndyCar Series to Japan, yet NASCAR saw an opportunity to treat the Japanese fan base with its biggest stars and a 500-mile exhibition race on the facility's oval course. The exhibition became even more interesting with Junior's participation, as he and his legendary father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., would race against each other for the first time. The event lived up to its hype. While racing hard for position, Junior gave the Intimidator a nudge with the nose of his car, causing the elder Earnhardt to move up the track. Junior took the position en route to a sixth-place finish. His father finished eighth. Thinking it was good, fun racing (it was an exhibition, after all) Dale Jr. couldn't wait to see his dad after the race and laugh about big fun they had just had. What he learned was that his father didn't share in the joviality of the situation...that is, if the airborne shoe that whizzed by Junior's head in the team hauler was any indication.