On this day in 1998, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally got the opportunity he had long waited for when he raced against his father for the first time in an exhibition stock-car race in Japan.
Junior recounts the experience on his dalejr.com website, where he writes:
"The first time I ever had the opportunity to race against my dad was in a 1998 NASCAR exhibition race at Twin Ring Motegi Speedway, Japan. I had just won the NASCAR Busch Series championship, and we were given the opportunity to drive competing Coca-Cola-sponsored Chevrolets. I couldn't wait to race on the same track as my father and, yes, even trade paint with him if the opportunity presented itself. It did."While racing hard for position at one point during the race, I gave him a little nudge, got his car out of shape, and drove on by. I thought it was just good fun racing, but I soon found out he wasn't too pleased with my driving tactics."
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Son finished ahead of father that day, with Junior finishing sixth and Senior coming in eighth.
The elder Earnhardt waited until an International Race of Champions (IROC) race at Michigan International Speedway the following year to get even for the bump from his son in Japan.
Senior was in the lead, and Junior spent 10 laps trying to pass him -- until they finally started beating and banging on each other all the way to the checkered flag, which Dad took by a mere .007 seconds. at me by .007 seconds, the smallest margin of victory in IROC history.
Junior didn't seem to mind too much, exclaiming on his website: "It might've been the most fun I've ever had in a race car!"