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Earnhardt Jr. to Race Busch Event

May 23, 2001

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CONCORD, N.C. (AP) _ Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race in the Carquest 300 on Saturday, his first Busch Series event since he won the championship in 1999.

Earnhardt, who also won the 1998 Busch Grand National title, will drive the No. 87 Chevrolet owned by Joe Nemechek, who was injured in a test session accident last week.

It marks the first time ever Earnhardt Jr. will compete in a car not owned by Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company founded by his late father.

``I never drove for anybody else, I’ve always driven for my dad, so this is kind of a neat deal,″ Earnhardt said Wednesday. ``I just appreciate the opportunity and think it’ll be pretty interesting to see if I can get out there and do good.″

Nemechek said once it became clear his injuries would keep him out of the race, he began looking for a replacement driver because he felt the car is strong enough to win the race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

``We tested there a couple of weeks ago and had an extremely fast race car,″ he said. ``It would be a shame not to have anybody racing that thing at Charlotte. So we talked about it and Dale Jr. was the name that came up.

``We gave him a call and he said he’d like to do it.″

Nemechek’s suffered a broken elbow, a fractured shoulder and bruised lungs in the accident in Dover, Del. He missed The Winston last week, and Bobby Hamilton Jr. will drive his No. 33 Chevrolet in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday.

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