Since he was a kid, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has always had a special affection for the Pepsi 400.
As a kid, school obligations always prevented Earnhardt Jr. from being able to watch the Daytona 500 in February in person. In fact, the first Daytona 500 Earnhardt Jr. witnessed was in 2000 when he was kicking off his NEXTEL Cup Series rookie season.
But when the Independence Day holiday weekend in July came around, Earnhardt Jr. would be able to travel to Daytona International Speedway to watch his father, Dale Earnhardt, compete in the mid-summer classic.
"I came to this race track a lot when I was young," Earnhardt Jr. said. "(The 1985 Pepsi 400) was one of the first ones I remember when Greg Sacks won and I watched all of that race from Turn 1 and that was really kind of when I started tuning in.
"From there on, it has always been a race I have looked forward to because I knew I was out all summer from school and it was one of the races I could expect to be at. We liked to go to as many races as we could when we were kids but school prevented us from going, but we always got to go to the 400. It's just been a mainstay in my life and a part of what I got excited about year after year."
Earnhardt Jr. will make his eighth start in this year's 49th annual Pepsi 400 on Saturday, July 7. He has a victory (2001), three top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes in the 160-lap, 400-mile race.
After seeing all those Pepsi 400s in daytime, Earnhardt Jr. is happy he gets a chance to compete under the bright lights at DIS.
"I couldn't imagine running it during the day with as hot as it is," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's just a great race. This track so fortunate to have Speedweeks and the big impact it has and have a race (the Pepsi 400) built around the vacation time that it is and to be run at night, it's just awesome."
This year's Pepsi 400 will mark Earnhardt Jr.'s final race at Daytona International Speedway with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Beginning with the 50th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008, Earnhardt Jr. will be driving for Hendrick Motorsports.
He'll compete in this year's Pepsi 400 in a specially painted No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. The No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet will be red, white and blue with stars and stripes.
The patriotic paint scheme is one of two military-themed paint schemes that Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are doing for the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. The proceeds from collectible die casts sales of the military themed paint schemes will provide college educations for surviving dependents of fallen Special Operations soldiers.
Earnhardt Jr. is part of an exclusive ticket package for the Pepsi 400 called the "Dale Earnhardt Jr. Experience," which is available for $145 per person.
The offer includes a ticket to an exclusive Dale Earnhardt Jr. appearance inside NEXTEL FANZONE before it opens to the public on Saturday, July 7, a Pepsi 400 Superstretch seat (rows 33-61) and a Pepsi 400 Pre-Race/NEXTEL FANZONE pass.
Tickets for the Pepsi 400 Weekend, including the Pepsi 400 on Saturday, July 7, the Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo NASCAR Busch Series race on Friday, July 6 and the Brumos Porsche 250 Rolex Series race on Thursday, July 5, are available at racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.