Dale Earnhardt Jr. surprised one of his biggest fans on Thursday, a 12-year-old suffering from a rare form of pediatric bone cancer.

While visiting the College Football Hall of Fame to help promote the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, Junior spent time with young Austin Freeman ... and even got to meet a hero of his own: former Washington Redskins DE and 2014 CFHOF inductee Dave Butz.

"It was just an awesome, incredible day," said Earnhardt Jr. "I got to meet two people who I now admire. Spending time with my new little buddy Austin was so rewarding because he is an amazing kid."

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"And, meeting Dave was unbelievable. He gave me his helmet he used the year of his retirement. Just in incredible gift for me since I am a huge Redskins fan and followed Dave in the late '70s and '80s. Can't thank Talladega Superspeedway enough for putting this all together. I am almost speechless."

Austin will also receive a VIP experience at Talladega, including a seat in the No. 88 team's pit box for the CampingWorld.com 500.