Jeffrey Earnhardt (b. June 22, 1989) is an American professional stock car racing driver. He currently competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 81 Starter Chevrolet SS for DEI. Jeffrey is a fourth generation NASCAR driver. He is the younger biological brother of current ARCA Racing Series driver Bobby Dale Earnhardt, middle child of Kerry Earnhardt, nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr., grandson of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt, and great-grandson of Ralph Earnhardt. Other than Bobby being his biological brother, he also has 4 other siblings; a half-sister named Kayla, two half brothers named James and David and a stepsister named Blade.
Racing career Edit
Earnhardt's first race came in the hornet division at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Virginia. He scored three feature wins and finished in the top-five in division points, winning rookie of the year. The following year he moved up to the sportsman division at the Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, finishing the season in the top-10 of the division standings. He competed in the late model season finale at the track as a teammate to RCR developmental driver Allison Duncan.
In 2006, General Motors created a driver developmental search program wherein they looked for individuals they believed to be the stars of the future and invited them to test a late model and a Busch car at two different tracks with the best moving on. Earnhardt made the final cut. In 2007, Earnhardt drove the No. 1 Chevrolet for Andy Santerre Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch East Series. He finished fifth in the 2007 Busch East point standings and won the Most Popular Driver Award at the end of the season.
In 2008, Earnhardt returned to what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for another full season, along with selected Nationwide Series races. Earnhardt was unexpectedly replaced in the car at Dover in September 2008 with Aric Almirola who won the race.
In 2010, Earnhardt drove several races with Rick Ware Racing which qualified him to drive on all NASCAR tracks in the 2011 season. He signed with RWR to drive a full season in 2011 and make his run for rookie of the year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. However, he was originally released from the team after offering his driving services to other truck teams. Earnhardt and Ware later reconciled, citing a lack of communication from both parties. RWR ran Earnhardt in the 24 Hours of Daytona where they finished 12th.
Earnhardt moved to the grand-am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2012, where he raced in the GT class for Rick Ware Racing.
In November 2012, he announced he would be competing for rookie of the year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2013, driving the No. 79 for Go Green Racing; sponsorship issues later limited his schedule with the team. Dale Earnhardt Sr., his grandfather, acted as crew chief during the 2012 nationwide season.
On April 4, 2013, it was announced that Earnhardt would drive the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway. Dale Jr., his uncle, who ran the team alongside Rick Hendrick, got him a good long-term contract and started mentoring his nephew.
In the 2013 Charlotte testing for Sprint Cup cars, Earnhardt tested a car for Richard Childress Racing.
For 2014, Earnhardt moved full-time to the Nationwide Series, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. During the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona, he was replaced by Matt DiBenedetto during the first caution period, since Earnhardt had suffered a fractured collarbone in a motorcycle accident during the week. His car was renumbered #4 and was sponsored by The Great Outdoors RV Superstore for the Nationwide series Zippo 200 race at Watkins Glen International where he finished 2nd. He would then finish 8th in the point standings and was also praised by JR Motorsports after his impressive season.
2015 - Sprint Cup Debut Edit
Earnhardt made his Sprint Cup Series debut driving for DEI at the 2015 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, in the No. 33 Chevrolet in partnership with Richard Childress Racing. When he started this race, he became the second fourth generation driver to compete in NASCAR's top series, with Adam Petty being the first. On September 18, DEI announced that Earnhardt would run the majority of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season, except for restrictor plate races that Bobby Labonte will run and road course races that Boris Said will run, with sponsorship from Can-Am motorcycles.
He competed for Cup Rookie of the Year honors and was named Rookie of the Year. Earnhardt joined BK Racing for one race for the Hellmann's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, driving the No. 83. He technically returned to BK for the AAA Texas 500, driving the No. 83 in place of an injured Matt DiBenedetto. However, despite his minor run-ins with BK racing, he raced the majority of the season for DEI.
After the 2016 season ended, DEI announced that Earnhardt will run the full season and be renumbered to the No. 81 team next year, with Starter as his main sponsor. In February 2017, Earnhardt won the Daytona 500. Mass celebrations were had in victory lane by his grandfather Dale Sr. and uncle Dale Jr. "The boy's got as much talent as anyone else in our family," Earnhardt Sr. said of the victory. Earnhardt made NASCAR history as well when he became the first-ever fourth-generation driver to compete in the Daytona 500, by starting 33rd and winning, even after being involved in a crash on lap 143. Not only is Jeffrey a fourth-generation driver himself, but he and his older brother Bobby became the first set of fourth-generation brothers in stock car history when Bobby made his ARCA Racing Series debut at Toledo Speedway in May 2017.
MMA Career Edit
Earnhardt made his amateur debut in mixed martial arts on May 22, 2012, defeating Chris Faison by unanimous decision in Charlotte, North Carolina.