Jeffrey Earnhardt is a professional American stock car racing driver who competes full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He is also a member of one of the most famous racing families in the sport, being related to Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. But how exactly is Jeffrey Earnhardt related to Dale Earnhardt? And what does it mean to carry the Earnhardt name in NASCAR? Here is a brief overview of the family legacy and the relationship between Jeffrey and Dale.
The Earnhardt Lineage
Jeffrey Lynn Earnhardt was born on June 22, 1989, in Mooresville, North Carolina. He is the son of Kerry Earnhardt, who was the older half-brother of Dale Earnhardt Sr. Jeffrey Earnhardt is thus Dale Earnhardt Jr’s first cousin once removed.
Jeffrey’s grandfather, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, winning seven Cup Series championships and 76 races. He was known as “The Intimidator” for his aggressive driving style and his fierce rivalry with other drivers. He tragically died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, leaving behind a legacy that still resonates today.
Jeffrey’s great-grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, was also a successful racer, winning more than 350 races in his career. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998 and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Jeffrey’s uncle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps and became one of the most popular and successful drivers in NASCAR. He won 26 Cup Series races, including two Daytona 500s, and was voted the Most Popular Driver 15 times. He retired from full-time racing in 2017 and now works as a broadcaster and team owner.
Jeffrey also has four siblings: a paternal half-sister named Kayla, and two maternal half-brothers, James and David. His brother Bobby Dale Earnhardt is also a racer who competes in various series.
The Earnhardt Pressure
Being related to Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comes with a lot of pressure and expectations from fans and media. Jeffrey Earnhardt has faced criticism from some people who think he only got his opportunities in NASCAR because of his last name, regardless of his talent or performance.
However, Jeffrey has learned to handle the pressure and not let it affect him negatively. He said in an interview with his uncle on the Dale Jr. Download podcast:
> “Obviously, expectations are high, and people automatically assume just because of your last name, you’re gonna win races. And unfortunately, wins don’t come that easy. But I feel like because you grow up in it, you kind of understand how to channel that pressure and not let it sit on your shoulders.
> And I feel like I’ve been able to handle that pretty well and know that I’m cutting my own path. I’m not you, I’m not Pawpaw Dale.”
Jeffrey also said that he appreciates the support and love he receives from his family and fans, especially those who have followed the Earnhardts for generations. He said:
> “It’s awesome what Papaw Dale’s built and you and Daddy (Kerry Earnhardt). The whole family’s continued to carry on that legacy. That’s what means the most to me — and seeing how much it means to other people.
> It’s incredible to see fans — hell, this past weekend, I ran into a lady that I ran into last year. And she just bawled like crazy when I walked up and hugged her, and she did the same thing this weekend. So that speaks volumes. That, to me, is what makes our last name so special and knowing what it means to other people.”
The Earnhardt Future
Jeffrey Earnhardt is currently racing for Alpha Prime Racing in the Xfinity Series, where he drives the Nos. 44/45 Chevrolet Camaros. He has competed in 68 Xfinity Series races since 2009, with a career-best finish of sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2022.
He has also raced in 75 Cup Series events since 2015, with a best result of 11th at Daytona International Speedway in 2018.
Jeffrey hopes to continue improving his skills and results as a driver, while also honoring his family name and legacy. He said:
> “I want to be successful for myself but also for my family because they’ve done so much for this sport. And I want to be able to make them proud.”