Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Earnhardt attended the high performance driving school run by Andy Hillenburg and began his racing career at the late age of 17 with his dad Dale Earnhardt, competing in the Street Stock division at Concord, North Carolina's Motorsport Park.
His first race car was a 1979 Monte Carlo that he co-owned with his older half-brother, Kerry Earnhardt. Within two seasons, Earnhardt had honed his driving abilities to the point of joining the Late Model Stock Car division.
He competed on the North and South Carolina short tracks driving a No. 3 Chevrolet. While he did run various tracks during this time, Earnhardt primarily focused his efforts at the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina and the East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, North Carolina, where he captured the pole for the Greenville Merchants 300 on October 28, 1994.
There he developed an in-depth knowledge of chassis setup and car preparation, while racing against his older brother Kerry and his sister Kelley. He worked at his father's dealership as a mechanic while he went to Mitchell Community College to earn an associate degree in automotive technology.
Earnhardt ran nine Busch Series races between 1996 and 1997 for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and Ed Whitaker, respectively, before driving for his father's team in the Busch Series full-time in 1998, in which he started the season with an amazing blowover after contact with Dick Trickle and Buckshot Jones at Daytona, on the same weekend that his father had his first and only Daytona 500 win.
Earnhardt won consecutive NASCAR Busch Series Championships in 1998 and 1999 barely edging Matt Kenseth.
In 1998 he made his first start in the Winston Cup Series, at the exhibition race held in Motegi, Japan.