Sports

CUP: Earnhardt In Living Color

OK, this hasn’t exactly been a vintage year for Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the track. But that doesn’t mean NASCAR’s popular driver can’t still draw a crowd.

This weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will compete in the penultimate race on the 2010 schedule, the Kobalt Tools 500. To commemorate the occasion, Earnhardt’s familiar No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will carry sponsorship from Diet Mountain Dew — and a paint scheme designed by a fan.

That fan, Jason Corino, of Colorado Springs, Colo., had his design personally selected by Earnhardt from thousands of those submitted by the Junior Nation faithful.

“I was surprised that out of almost 10,000 people, Dale Jr. had picked my paint scheme to win,” said Corino. “There are no words to explain how I feel, other than it was a once-in-a-life time chance, and that I'm excited and can't wait to see the car on the track. Thank you so much Dale Jr. and Diet Mountain Dew.”

Earnhardt will unveil his special paint scheme at Diet Dew Race Night on Friday, when the Phoenix Coyotes face off against the Calgary Flames in Glendale, Ariz. Earnhardt, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 team will make a special appearance on the ice with the car during the first intermission of the game. Prior to the game, Earnhardt will answer questions from fans during a special Race Night Town Hall for 100 fans who purchase a special $88 VIP ticket. For more information call 480-563-PUCK or visit PhoenixCoyotes.com.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.