Randy was important to the race car driver in his early racing days and also played a role in Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI), which was founded by Dale Sr. and his wife, Teresa.
ABC News reports that Dale Jr. spoke about his uncle during the prerace ceremony, commenting, “It is just very, very sad, but I am glad his suffering is over with. He is going to be missed. He was awesome, such an awesome guy.”
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, sister to Dale Jr., announced Randy Earnhardt’s death on Twitter Sunday morning, writing, “Prayers for our family as we have lost our Uncle Randy after a year long battle with cancer. #cancersucks #earnhardtstrong.”
Dspite the loss, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a lot more to focus on, including Sunday’s race. Rather than taking time off, Jr. started 15th at Indianapolis, but had issues with his car. The problem was eventually diagnosed as a loose wheel, notes USA Today.
After a pit stop, Dale Jr. was left a lap behind the leaders. He commented of the problem, “[You have to] come in. It’s dangerous staying out there. You could hit the wall or wreck some other people and you don’t want to do that.”
The early pit stop put the team off. However, cautions fell the right way for the team, allowing Earnhardt Jr. a top 10 finish, despite the issues. Earnhardt’s crew was disappointed with the problems, with crew chief Steve Leterte commenting, “I think our strategy worked, and I think the cars that beat us were faster than us.”
The death of Randy Earnhardt is especially difficult for the racing family, who tragically lost Dale Earnhardt Sr. during an accident on the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. There is no word on funeral arrangements.