IROC Race at Michigan

6/11/1999

As the reigning 1998 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, Dale Jr. was invited to be one of 12 drivers to compete in the 1999 International Race of Champions (IROC). The 1999 IROC season comprised of four races – Daytona, Talladega, Michigan, and Indianapolis. Points were awarded after each race based off finishing position, and an eventual champion was crowned. While this was Dale Jr.'s first season as an IROC contender, this was Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s 15th. Six months earlier the Earnhardts competed against each other for the very first time in an exhibition race at Twin Ring Motegi – a race in which the son got the best of the father. On June 11, 1999, at Michigan International Speedway, the father got his revenge. Starting second, Dale Jr. was a front-runner the entire race. So, too, was his father, who started 12th but wasn't there long enough to notice. In second place, Dale Jr. trailed only his dad as the laps counted down. He had spent 10 full circuits trying to plot his strategy on how to make the winning pass. Now it was time. On the final turn of the final lap, Junior got a run off of turn four and pulled beside the Intimidator's car with the checkered flag in sight. It was a drag race to the finish. Door-to-door contact was made once... then twice... three times even... as they raced to a photo finish. What transpired was the closest finish in IROC history, with Earnhardt Sr. beating his son by .007 seconds. Said Junior afterward, "It might've been the most fun I've ever had in a race car."