Explained: The Controversy Surrounding the 2001 NASCAR Pepsi 400 ‘Fix’ Won by Dale Earnhardt Jr

Published 12/24/2021, 2:46 PM EST
DOVER, DE – SEPTEMBER 30: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Apache Warrior 400 presented by Lucas Oil at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


2001 was a fairly dark season for the NASCAR Cup Series. This was mostly because of the fatal accident of Dale Earnhardt, one of the best and most loved drivers in NASCAR history. Later in the season, his son Dale Earnhardt Jr stormed to victory at the same track that claimed his father’s life. However, it is worth mentioning that the 2001 NASCAR Pepsi 400 divided opinions of many people.

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Some wondered whether Dale Jr was handed an advantage for the race. The driver himself admitted that the question was valid since his car ran pretty well. However, he insisted that it would be ‘foolish’ for NASCAR to try to ‘fix’ the race. Many other drivers also backed Dale Earnhardt Jr’s argument. Dale Jarrett called the notion ludicrous and said that there was no way the winning driver received an advantage.

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What else did drivers say about Dale Earnhardt Jr and his win?

Meanwhile, Rusty Wallace said, “There’s nothing fixed. None of that, and whoever’s dreamed that up, it’s ridiculous. It was a wonderful win for him and I don’t want to tarnish it in any way”. However, there were a couple of drivers who said otherwise and ignited the debate.

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FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 03: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide/Justice League Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

One of them was Jimmy Spencer, who claimed that something was ‘fictitious’. He also declared that he knew that the #8 of Dale Earnhardt Jr was going to win. Later on, Spencer laid the blame on the media for blowing his comments out of proportion. To be fair, he acknowledged that it was ‘dumb’ on his part to make the accusations.

Others like Johnny Benson insisted that on the occasion, the #8 car was just too fast. Even the various crew chiefs leaped up to defend NASCAR from the accusations. According to Dale Jarrett, there was nothing wrong with that race, apart from the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr was in the form of his life.

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What is your opinion on the matter?

DIVE DEEPER

Michael Waltrip Fondly Remembers This Iconic Moment With Dale Earnhardt Jr

about 1 month ago

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Dhruv George

12510 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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