Sprint Cup Series Debut


If attempting to qualify for your first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was nerve-racking enough, doing it at your hometown track with a marketing campaign of one of the world's biggest brewers, Anheuser-Busch, could surely add to the anxiety. With Budweiser signed on to sponsor Dale Jr.'s plunge into Sprint Cup in 2000, the grand debut actually came via a partial five-race schedule in 1999 that started at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Dale Jr.'s attempt to qualify for the 1999 Coca-Cola 600 was dubbed "Countdown To E Day", as the world anticipated the arrival of the next generation Earnhardt into stock car racing's biggest series. Calling it "the most nervous I've ever been" Junior not only ran a qualifying lap fast enough to make the race but did so with the eighth-quickest time. Dale Jr. finished 16th in his Sprint Cup debut. He finished three laps down to winner Jeff Burton but made it through the entirety of NASCAR's longest and most grueling race.