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CONCORD, N.C. -- Leading up to the longest race of the Sprint Cup Series season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a busy week.

HendrickMotorsports.com got the chance to tag along with the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS on one of his busier days of the week.

Below is a look at how Earnhardt spent a day that was capped off by giving the reigning Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year a ride around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

8:55 a.m.: Earnhardt arrives at the Hendrick Motorsports campus, making his way to the lobby of the Nos. 48 and 88 race shop. There, he steps in front of the camera to record messages for a unique experience that will be available in the near future.


It involves charity -- particularly Nationwide Children's Hospital -- and a VIP experience for fans.

"I think they've got a great opportunity to have a lot of fun, should they win," Earnhardt said. "And it also goes to a great cause with the Nationwide Children's Hospital, which we had a little time to go visit."

9:45 a.m.: After recording is completed, Donna Teach, chief marketing officer for Nationwide Children's Hospital, pulls Earnhardt aside to present him with a gift.

"We've been talking about Dale's visit since he was at the hospital," Teach said. "The kids were just so excited. It was such a special day. So we wanted to put something together to let him know how much we're thinking about him and how much the visit really meant to the kids at the hospital. It was fantastic."


She hands Earnhardt a frame with multiple photos and a thank you message.

"I thought that was great," Earnhardt said. "I had a good time at the hospital and it was pretty cool for them to put it in a frame. I'll definitely put that up in my office, because that was a great day."


10 a.m.: From there, Earnhardt heads directly to No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives' office for a quick meeting.

Then both men make their way up the stairs to a shop meeting, where they are joined by Jimmie Johnson and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus.


"We talk about the last race, everything that worked, that didn't work and talk about the next race, everything we're planning on doing and just sort of get everybody on the same page," Earnhardt explained.


10:40 a.m.: At the end of the meeting, Earnhardt chats with Ives in the crew chief's office once again before another meeting with the No. 88 engineers.


11:25 a.m.: Earnhardt enters the race shop to help make some adjustments inside the car in advance of Sunday's 600-mile race.


11:40 a.m.: The driver walks upstairs to the marketing area of the building to autograph merchandise, including diecasts, posters and a piece of sheet metal.


12 p.m.: At noon, all of the drivers and crew chiefs head to the Hendrick Motorsports competition meeting, where topics are discussed as an organization as opposed to four individual race teams.

1:45 p.m.: Earnhardt arrives at Charlotte Motor Speedway to meet Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.

The two athletes exchange greetings and sign footballs and mini helmets before heading out to the track.


2:20 p.m.: After Davis' pace car training, Earnhardt joins the linebacker on pit road. He prepares to drive him around in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet.

"It's always fun when you introduce people to the sport and give them a different perspective. To take him around the track will be interesting," he said. "I'm looking forward to his feedback on how he enjoys his experience as far as today and throughout the rest of the race weekend."

3 p.m.: After the ride-along, Davis presents Earnhardt with a Carolina Panthers helmet, while Earnhardt gives Davis a race helmet and Nationwide firesuit.


The driver said he was excited to add the helmet to his ever-growing collection.

"They just kind of come up un-expectantly – situations like today," he said of how he adds helmets. "But I do have a big, giant collection of probably about 25 to 30 NFL helmets and about 60 college helmets. I started really collecting the college helmets and the NFL ones trickle in from time to time."

3:45 p.m.: Earnhardt completes some media interviews about the unique ride-along.


Afterward, he records a few more messages about the unique experience benefitting Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"I think that's going to be a lot of fun for whoever actually ends up winning the prize, for sure," Earnhardt reiterated.

5 p.m.: Earnhardt gets back to Hendrick Motorsports campus as his obligations for the day wind down.

In less than 24 hours, he'll be back on the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for practice to get 600-week festivities started.

Check out more of our A Day in the Life features, including following around No. 5 team crew chief Keith Rodden on a typical preparation day at Hendrick Motorsports campus, taking in the sights and sounds of Chase Elliott's Sprint Cup Series debut and learning the ropes of NASCAR Media Day to kick off the season from Johnson.