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Earnhardt honors National Guard, NASCAR heritage with paint scheme

CONCORD, N.C. (May 17, 2008)—With the NASCAR Sprint All Star race this Saturday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted to do something special with his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. Earnhardt will be running a special paint scheme to pay tribute to the National Guard and Buddy Baker’s winning car nicknamed the “Gray Ghost.”

The paint scheme will use a 3 Doors Down song to honor the National Guard. A fan of the band, Earnhardt has kept in touch with lead singer Brad Arnold since shooting a video for the band’s song “The road I’m on.” The band’s new, self-titled album will be released May 20th and features the song “Citizen Soldier.” Arnold was inspired to write the song after seeing the way 50,000 citizen soldiers mobilized to help with Hurricane Katrina relief.

“Winning with this car would be a fitting way to pay respect to the citizen men and women who become soldiers in times of need,” said Earnhardt, who wanted the song name and band title on his hood for the all-star race as a way to honor the National Guard.

The No. 88 Chevrolet also will feature a paint scheme that is a throwback to the car Baker drove to win the 1980 Daytona 500. This is not the first time Earnhardt has used a retro paint scheme in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Last week, Earnhardt honored Darrell Waltrip by running his old-school Mountain Dew paint scheme at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

“Over my career I would like to pay respect to the heritage of this sport,” Earnhardt said. “Buddy Baker is someone I respect tremendously, and I loved that car he ran in the 1980 Daytona 500.”

Baker’s 1980 race car was nicknamed the “Gray Ghost” because its colors allowed it to blend in with the track. Camouflaged, the “Gray Ghost” took Baker all the way to Victory Lane. After Baker’s win at Daytona, fellow drivers complained to NASCAR, and Baker was forced to put reflectors on the “Gray Ghost” so that it was easier to see.

Earnhardt is happy with the way the paint scheme turned out, although he admits there is one difference between the two cars.

“NASCAR doesn’t let us run chrome numbers anymore,” Earnhardt said. “But believe me—I asked.”