All Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed was a chance to prove he could win in stock cars.
Turns out, he was a natural — on and off the track.
Now the longtime fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 winner will join his late father in the NASCAR Hall of Fame after being selected one of three members of the 2021 class, which was announced Tuesday. The other inductees are Red Farmer and the late Mike Stefanik.
Earnhardt Jr. received 76% of the votes in his first appearance on the ballot.
"My wife was here, my family, my sister, so surrounded by a lot of close folks," he said on NBCSN's announcement show. "It was great to see my face pop up on the screen."
Being an Earnhardt certainly provides some advantages.
His grandfather, Ralph, was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997 and was selected as one of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history in 1998.
Junior's father also made that list. The driver known as "the Intimidator" reached victory lane 76 times at NASCAR's highest level, winning a record-tying seven Cup Series championships and hordes of fans with his fearless style. And when Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, many of his fans started rooting for his engaging son.
Dale Jr. got his first big break in 1998 when he raced full-time in the second tier Busch Series — for the team his dad owned. He took full advantage by winning back-to-back titles on that second-tier series in 1998 and 1999 before posting his first two Cup Series wins as a rookie in 2000.
But even without a Cup Series title on his résumé, Junior carved out his own niche in NASCAR.
He won 26 races, including the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. He won the Pepsi 400 in July 2001, the first Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway after his father's fatal crash. He also won four straight races at Talladega Superspeedway from 2001 to 2003.
And when he finally walked away from full-time driving after the 2017 season, he earned his 15th consecutive most popular driver award.
Junior also spoke his mind and became a social media favorite and now will be part of the father-son driver tandem enshrined in Charlotte, North Carolina.
While Earnhardt will be the featured attraction at the induction ceremony, he will be honored with some other former stars.
Stefanik won seven titles in NASCAR's modified series and two more in the Busch North series, giving him nine total victories, tied for second in series history with Richie Evans. In 2003, Stefanik was named the second greatest driver in modified history, and he just missed the cut for last year's class.
The 61-year-old Stefanik died from injuries sustained in a plane crash in Connecticut last September and received 49% of the 65 votes.
Stefanik will be enshrined with Earnhardt in the smallest class in the history of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which inducted its inaugural group in 2010.
"Phenomenal when you think about what he did. Nine championships," Kyle Petty said during NBC Sports Network's announcement show. "Phenomenal record, phenomenal amount of wins."
Ricky Rudd finished third in regular balloting.
Farmer, one of the three original "Alabama Gang" members with brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison, beat out Hershel McGriff by earning 71% of the vote on the pioneer ballot.
The news comes just days before the series races at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway. The 87-year-old Farmer has won an estimated 700 to 900 races, though none at the Cup Series, and he still competes routinely on the dirt track across from Talladega.
He won four Late Model Sportsmen series season titles, was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998 and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004.
"Red Farmer raced against my grandfather," Petty said. "He started in '53. He raced against my father, and he raced against me. That just blows me away when I say it."
Ralph Seagraves will be honored as the winner of the Landmark Award, given for outstanding contributions to the sport, after helping attract sponsors refurbish tracks in the series. He helped forge the bond between former Cup Series title sponsor Winston and NASCAR.