NASCAR Talladega 2013: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has fond memories of Talladega

Jerry Markland

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is happy to be back at Talladega, one of his favorite tracks in all of NASCAR.

Returning to Talladega Superspeedway always elicits a smile from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who holds fond memories of the track he used to roam around as a kid.

It also the place where his father dominated, winning a track-best 10 Cup races, including a memorable charge in the closing laps in 2000 that concluded with him winning the last of his 76 career victories.

"I remember going down the back straightaway in that car and wondering if it was really going to stick when I got in that corner..."-Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"I do enjoy coming here and I remember this was one of my favorites as a kid," Earnhardt said Friday. "When I was young, out of all the tracks that I had the chance to go to, this was definitely one of my favorites to come to.

"Milling around in the garage during the race and just how big the place was and the cars looked different because of the superspeedway bodies and it was just a really fun experience for me."

Talladega was also the site where Earnhardt first turned a lap on track bigger than the half-mile bullring he competed at on a weekly basis.

His father's then-Busch Series team was testing at the 2.6-mile speedway and out of the blue Earnhardt received a call to grab his helmet, firesuit and not ask any questions.

"Dad called me at the dealership," Earnhardt said. "I was changing oil and (he) told me to get my helmet and my suit and be at the airport the next morning and not to ask any questions or tell anybody where I was going. I didn't know where I was going."

Still competing in the street stock division at his local track, Talladega presented a challenge unlike any Earnhardt had ever faced.

"We got here and he told me to get my stuff on and get in the car and go out and run; and hold it wide-open, that it would be on the stick," he recalled. "And I remember going down the back straightaway in that car and wondering if it was really going to stick when I got in that corner because it just didn't seem like it was possible."

Earnhardt would eventually follow in his dad's footsteps winning five races, though none since 2004.

And at no other circuit on the schedule is he adored like he is at Talladega, where each time Earnhardt takes the lead the cheers from the grandstands can be heard above the roar of the engines. The noise is akin to what one would hear at an SEC football game featuring the nearby University of Alabama.

"You're happy being first, obviously, but when you see the reaction that other people get from it, yeah, it's a great feeling," Earnhardt said. "It's a really good feeling. Sometimes you swear you can hear them, but most of the time you can't.

"You can definitely see after lap after lap of going by the grandstand and seeing them sitting down. When you come by and they are standing up, it's obvious. And you see the arms in the air and all that stuff."

More from SB Nation:

Complete coverage of the 2013 Sprint Cup Chase

Kurt Busch's "Talladega Nights" paint scheme

NASCAR power rankings: Johnson, Kenseth create distance

2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule released

The good times, hard life and shocking death of Dick Trickle

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