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A collection of thoughts: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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We are halfway through the NASCAR season as 18 of 36 races are now complete. So, why not share a Dale Earnhardt Jr. memory since this is his last year of racing. I have six monumental moments of his career. This series will continue as the season progresses.

Here is the list: 6) Best year: 2004. 5) Post 9/11 win. 4) First ever Triumph 3) A Martinsville Man. 2) The death of the Intimadator. 1) Avenging Daytona (2001).

Honorable mention: Move to Hendrick.

No.6...Best year: 2004

Dale Earnhardt Jr. did everything right driving the No.8 Bud Chevy that year as he won six times, and led the points for 10 weeks before finishing fifth in the standings. What capped it off was a win in the Daytona 500 that year. It happened three years after losing his father in the same race.

Junior trailed Tony Stewart most of the second half in that Daytona 500, but passed him down the backstretch with 19 laps to go. Nobody had the speed to catch Junior as he went onto capture the race. Junior's win became only the third father/son combo to win The Great America Race (Richard/Lee Petty, Davey/Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt/Junior).

Junior won at the two biggest race tracks in the series, two of the three short tracks, a one-mile track and a 1.5-mile track, which proved how versatile and solid the driver was that season. Junior has taken the checkered flag 26 times as a winner in the Monster Energy Drink Series...the top level in NASCAR.

As for the county sports...Legion Baseball:

Post 423 reached the Area IV finals and will play South Caldwell this week. Should Rutherford County win, they go to the Legion State Playoffs in Greenville, NC. Normally, Rutherford, Caldwell and/or Cherryville is in that Area IV final. This year, Cherryville didn't make it, but Rutherford County (13-3) will get the chance again.

Owls

Forest City Owls have 24 games left at the Coastal Plain League All-Star Break. The Owls have a four game lead in the West as they try to keep the No.1 overall spot in the West. They have a game lead in the overall standings to host throughout the playoffs.

NASCAR

I guess 1.5-mile tracks will be officially known as the Martin Truex Jr. Invitational after blistering the field this weekend. Truex has won on three different 1.5-mile tracks and should have a fourth if not for fuel strategy in the Coke 600 at Charlotte.

It's been two-plus months since Aric Almirola has been in a race car, but he may get come back this weekend in New Hampshire. Almirola fractured his back in Kansas during mid-May in a wild and terrible wreck.

Darrell Wallace has done a commendable job by filling in, but the ride is Almirola's. Wallace finished three times in the last four races amongst the top 20. He likely finished driving the No.43 this year with an 11th at Kentucky.

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