The Winston

Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Date: 5/20/2000
Car No: 8
Sponsor: Budweiser
Organization: Dale Earnhardt Inc.

No rookie had ever won NASCAR's All-Star race, but Dale Jr. was no ordinary rookie. Having already won two races (Texas and Richmond) in his first 16 races, Junior was entering All-Star week with momentum, so much so that Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter Humpy Wheeler picked the Budweiser team to shock the world and win The Winston. The race was divided into three segments (30 laps, 30 laps, 10 laps). Junior finished third in each of the first two segments. He then was part of a gut-wrenching decision to make a pit stop with eight laps to go in the final segment for four new tires. The call for fresh rubber relegated the No. 8 Chevrolet to 10th for the restart. Passing cars every lap, Dale Jr. charged to the front. He inched behind leader Dale Jarrett with two laps to go and nosed ahead with the white flag waving. Junior then pulled away, or as TNT broadcaster Eli Gold described it, "He kicked those Clydesdales into high gear!" The ending scene was one for the ages, as Dale Earnhardt Sr., who finished third, ran across the infield grass to celebrate with his son and team. "The highlight of my life is seeing the smile on my daddy's face," said Junior after the race. "I mean that's what this is all about... making people happy."