Graveyard Ghosts: Dale Jr.’s No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet

Ron Lemasters | JR Motorsports | 2/12/2018

Dale Jr. News Racecar Graveyard

The famous “Amelia” was a heck of a ride for Dale Jr. The restrictor-plate Chevrolet carried him to three victories, a second-place run and a third-place finish in 2015.

Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Car: No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS dubbed ‘Amelia’

Track: Talladega Superspeedway

Bio: “Amelia” was a heck of a ride for Dale Earnhardt Jr. The restrictor-plate Chevrolet used by the 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver carried him to three victories, a second-place run and a third-place finish in 2015, but 2016 proved to be its undoing.

Named in honor of legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, the Chevrolet SS was one of those rides that goes down in history, if you’ll pardon the pun. The car was built for Speedweeks in 2015, and all Earnhardt Jr. did with it was win his qualifying race and finish third in the Daytona 500 that year. He won in Amelia at Talladega and returned to Daytona to win the summer race before finishing second in the fall at Talladega.

In 2016, the team made the unusual decision to update Amelia for the new season, and it proved to be problematic. After starting third in the Daytona 500, Earnhardt Jr. was eliminated when the car snapped loose off Turn 4 and pounded the wall. The same thing happened to teammate Jimmie Johnson later in the race.

At Talladega, Earnhardt Jr. had the same thing happen, this time off Turn 2. The impact bloodied Amelia’s nose and sent Earnhardt Jr. to the garage for repairs. He came back out, only to be caught between Carl Edwards’ car and the outside wall when the former’s right front tire let go.

That proved to the last we’d see of Amelia on the track. “Hindsight is probably 20-20, but we tried to run the car again this year,” he said following Talladega. “We had pretty bad luck with it. We spun out in both races for whatever reason. The car just didn’t have good balance in the race.

"Not that that car got obsolete or that is the reason why I keep spinning out in it, but we typically wouldn't keep bringing a car back for that long a period of time," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We would have built a new car by now. But we really thought it could keep continuing. It's probably best that we go ahead and build a new car."

And the final incident with Edwards made that a moot point anyway.

“I think that last wreck with Carl bent the center section of the car so we wouldn’t be able to fix it if we wanted to, I don’t think,” Earnhardt told a SiriusXM radio audience later. “It’s going to go into the graveyard whenever they get all the useful parts off of it — whatever they need. They’ll probably pull the engine and the transmission out of it — all of that good stuff before it comes out here. But it will get there eventually, for sure.”

Amelia sits quietly in her final resting place in Dale Jr.’s Racecar Graveyard at Dirty Mo Acres, a reminder of success--and a failure of sorts both at the same time.