He’s NASCAR’s most popular driver 14 years running. But there was a time when Dale Earnhardt Jr. went unrecognized around the Miami Valley.
Back in October 1996, Earnhardt Jr. was hired by then-Shady Bowl Speedway owner Charlie Stapleton to race on the Champaign County oval. Earnhardt Jr., then 22, was an up-and-coming driver getting his start in what’s now the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Even Stapleton didn’t know exactly who he was looking for.
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