As NASCAR Looks to Silence Its Race Cars, Here Is Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Unmuffled 850 hp Chevrolet Impala in 2008

Published 12/07/2023, 4:13 PM EST

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The Car of Tomorrow may not be the most popular NASCAR car of all time but was it loud! With an epic V-8 engine, it could generate power up to a whopping 850 hp and the sound it made was like an orchestra to the ears of racing fans. Dale Earnhardt Jr made full use of the V8 engine in 2008 at the Texas Motor Speedway when he put in a belter of a lap to claim pole position.

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Today, the NASCAR engine is nowhere near as powerful as it used to be. The maximum power generated by the current engines is 670 hp. The cars don’t even sound all that loud, especially after the recent test session in Phoenix where new mufflers were tested. Fans were not very pleased with how the car sounded as they reminisced about the good old days of the raging 850 hp engines.

A memorable moment for Dale Earnhardt Jr

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Back in 2008, Dale Earnhardt Jr was all the rage. The 2x Xfinity Series champion had just joined Hendrick Motorsports on a full-time basis and was already the most popular driver in NASCAR. While he did not come close to winning the championship that year, Junior often showed glimpses of his brilliant race-craft and the 2008 Samsung 500 in Texas stands testament to that.

As Dale Jr began his final run in qualifying, he had to beat the time set by Carl Edwards who had recorded an impressive time of 28.49. Junior knew what he had to do and he stepped on the gas without any hesitation. As the #88 HMS Chevy Impala raced around the track, one of the commentators said, “I’ll tell you, this car looks rocket fast.”

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Junior had finished P11 in practice earlier so not many expected him to fight for pole. However, as the #88 went into turn 3, Dale Earnhardt Jr was over a tenth quicker than Carl Edwards and he was pushing even more. As he crossed the start/finish line, Junior recorded a time of 28.286s at 190.907 mph. He beat Edwards by two-tenths of a second, although the latter, driving the #99 Ford for RF Racing, eventually won the race.  

The then-HMS driver was chuffed with himself and the car after he got the job done. His comments on the team radio were unclear but he did say, “Good job, good car.” Fans roared their approval as the loud and raging #88 made its way back to pit road, making it a memorable moment for the 49-year-old.

Watch this Story: Dale Earnhardt’s Legacy Revived on the Streets

Times have changed since then and the cars have gotten a lot less powerful. Junior is one of the many people who have called for more horsepower but it seems like their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

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Will NASCAR be able to deliver on Junior’s request?

Dale Earnhardt Jr has in the past implored NASCAR to do something about the Next Gen car especially when it comes to short-track racing. “NASCAR has a serious problem with the NextGen Car at the short tracks, any short tracks… I am putting something on NASCAR here, man. I am really trusting them and hoping that they’re gonna fix this. They got to,” the 49-year-old had said in an earlier episode of The Dale Jr Download podcast.

The 49-year-old termed it to be a serious problem and whilst he did not mention horsepower on this particular occasion, it will be interesting to see if NASCAR delivers on Junior’s request on a race weekend.

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Do you think NASCAR’s new short-track package will be enough to do the trick? Let us know your thoughts.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

745Articles

One take at a time

Drivers these days need to be more like Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace. Well, now you know who my favorites are. For me, it all began with my interest in F1, but I was just tired of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen showing unparalleled dominance.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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