Dale Jr. gives Richmond keys to Jeff

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. will put his nephew in one of his JR Motorsports Nationwide Series cars for the April 26 race at Richmond International Raceway.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet, becoming only the second fourth-generation racer to compete in one of NASCAR's top touring series. Adam Petty was the other.

"My phone has been blowing up," Jeffrey Earnhardt said Friday. "The response has been incredible. I received a lot of text messages and tweets from people in NASCAR, and the fans have been great.

"Between my grandfather, my dad and Dale Jr., there is such a huge fan base that is very supportive of my family. I just appreciate the opportunity. I can't wait. I wish the Richmond race weekend was tomorrow."

Jeffrey Earnhardt is 23 and the son of Earnhardt's half-brother, Kerry, grandson to seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. and the great grandson of Ralph Earnhardt. He has competed in 14 Nationwide Series races, including four this season for Archie St. Hilaire and Go Green Racing. He had a season-best finish of 20th at Phoenix.

"Richmond happens to be one of the few races that neither Kasey Kahne nor Brad Sweet are scheduled to drive the No. 5 car because it's not a Great Clips-sponsored race," JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said.

"Dale and I were discussing our options for that weekend. It was his idea to put Jeffrey in the car and let him drive our equipment," Earnhardt Miller said. "I loved the idea, and everyone in the company -- as soon as they heard it -- did, too. It's only a one-race deal but something that could really help Jeffrey if he does well."