LONG POND, Pa. – Saturday morning at Pocono Raceway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stepped into the media center.
Before he could even take a single question, Pocono Raceway CEO Nick Igdalsky stepped on stage to present the driver with a gift.
“We wanted to buy him a baby buffalo,” Igdalsky joked before revealing the real present.
“We’d like to make a small contribution to The Dale Jr. Foundation and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”
He then held up a check for $17,776 – the grand total after both organizations will receive an $8,888 donation.
“That’s awesome,” Earnhardt smiled. “Man, that’s perfect. That’s going to make a lot of folks happy.”
Igdalsky noted that the track wanted to do something special for Earnhardt on his final visit to the track in his final full-time NASCAR Cup Series season. He said Earnhardt stands near the top of the pack as a driver “that has done more for our fans here at Pocono, more appearances, more Tricky Triangle Clubs, more autograph sessions – Fan Fest was a great example of that last night. So, thank you very much.”
Earnhardt pointed to the “amazing job” the track does for the fans in attendance each and every race as one reason the track stands out in his mind.
“I’ve always had great experiences here outside the car,” he said. “It’s obviously a great area to visit and one of the more entertaining and comfortable stops on the circuit with the Pocono mountains and everything.
“it certainly is beautiful up here. It’s one of our favorite trips.”
The donation to two worthy causes only made his final visit to the track that much more special.
“I can’t thank the folks here at Pocono enough,” Earnhardt said.