(c) Adam Fenwick
(Photo: Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to his roots, finishes ninth in South Carolina 400 at Florence

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to his roots Saturday night at Florence Motor Speedway by competing in the 30th running of the South Carolina 400 late model stock car event.

Earnhardt, driving a car sporting a throwback scheme to the Bass Pro Shops car his father drove in the 1998 NASCAR All-Star Race, started deep in the field and overcame a pair of late-race penalties to finish ninth.

The NASCAR Hall of Famer qualified 26th and methodically worked his way into contention ahead of the final 50-lap run to the checkered flag. With 13 laps left, Earnhardt made contact with Matt Cox down the backstretch while the two were racing for third.

The contact sent Cox into the inside wall, and event officials penalized Earnhardt by sending him to the tail of the field for causing the crash.

Earnhardt marched back through the field a second time, but an incident with Landon Pembelton with less than five laps left saw Earnhardt penalized a second time, resulting in a ninth-place finish.

The race was Earnhardt’s first at Florence Motor Speedway since his formative years in the 1990s. Earnhardt is a major supporter of grassroots racing and has gone out of his way in recent years to support local short tracks like Florence.