Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been one of the most beloved and successful drivers in NASCAR for many years. As the son of racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr., his name was an instant draw for fans. Dale Jr. also earned attention from collectors, and this list features some of the most notable Dale Earnhardt Jr. cards from his early days.
Earnhardt's professional NASCAR career began part-time in 1996 with the lower Busch Series, and quickly moved up to the top Winston Cup Series full-time by 2000. Along the way, card companies took note of Dale Jr.'s rise and quickly began placing him in their sets. In fact, Earnhardt Jr. has several cards that were printed before he had ever completed a single lap around a NASCAR track at any level.
Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears in current racing card sets, many of his key cards come from the first half of his career on the track. Amongst the many autographs, relic cards, inserts, and die-cuts, there are definitely cards that are worth making a priority. This top list looks at some of the best Dale Earnhardt Jr. cards, especially his rookie cards and autographs.
Be sure to check out our guide to some of the Top Dale Earnhardt Sr. Cards, as well.
Are there any other standouts in your Dale Earnhardt Jr. card collection? Let us know in the comments.
Top 10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Racing Cards
10. 2002 Press Pass Eclipse Under Cover Dale Earnhardt Jr. #CD2/12 Race-Used Car Cover #/750
The Under Cover relic insert from Press Pass first rolled out in 2002, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. being one of the key choices. Featuring a piece of race-used car cover, there are different foil variations for all the drivers in this set, with each one having a different print run. Dale Jr. checks in on the higher side but remains one of the top options. There is also a different version that showcases his #8 car.
Press Pass produced multiple car cover relic sets during their NASCAR run and Earnhardt Jr. is found in several of them.
9. 1999 Press Pass Premium Burning Desire Dale Earnhardt Jr. #FD2B/6
The six-card 1999 Press Press Premium set is home to one of Earnhardt's toughest inserts from early in his racing career. While there is not a serial number on the card, the odds of pulling any of these cards is 1:192 packs. That is one in every eight boxes. This card costs a little more than some of his other die-cuts, and it can be condition sensitive.
8. 1999 SP Authentic Short Print Dale Earnhardt Jr. #/83 Autograph #/500
Upper Deck spent the last half of the 1990s producing racing cards. The names, themes, and characteristics largely matched their MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL releases. Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared in a few of the Upper Deck racing sets and was on the autograph checklist for 1999 SP Authentic. The simple, portrait-style card is not only revered because of its design, but this signed card is also one of Dale Jr.'s more affordable autographs from the 1990s.
He also has autographs in Upper Deck NASCAR Signature Collection from the same year.
7. 1999 Press Pass VIP Head Gear Dale Earnhardt Jr. #HG4
1999 VIP Head Gear inserts are some of the most popular die-cut cards in the world of racing cards. Starting in the mid-1990s, Press Pass continued the die-cut inserts for a decade. The front of the 1999 Head Gear cards features a picture of the driver with their helmet in the foreground. As per the name of the insert, the back of the card has information about the racer's helmet, such as the company that manufactured it, the designer, and the style. The base version of this card is very affordable. There is also a plastic version, which will only cost you a few more dollars.
6. 1999 Wheels Runnin' N Gunnin' Dale Earnhardt #RG13
Another really great die-cut from the late-'90s was Wheels Runnin' N Gunnin'. The 35-card insert featured both a picture of the racer with their car and a checkered flag die-cut along the edge of the card. The base version of this insert is quite inexpensive, widely available, and very popular due to the design. In addition, there is also a foil version of this card that is more expensive. Although it is not serial numbered, the foil version is relatively scarce. Whether the base or foil version, this is one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s top die-cuts.
5. 2009 Press Pass Legends Family Relics Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Multiple Versions)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a large quantity of memorabilia cards produced with a variety of different relic types. Many of these came under Press Pass' watch. However, 2009 Press Pass Legends Family Relics offers one of the few that combines father and son. There are several different versions, including firesuit and tire relics, but all print runs are limited to 99 or less, so they are not easy to find. The majority of Earnhardt Jr. relic cards from Press Pass do not approach the price of his autographs, but the Family Relics cards come close.
4. 1999 Wheels High Gear Dale Earnhardt Jr. Autograph #/350
Dale Jr. does have a certified autograph earlier than this one in 1999 Wheels High Gear, but many collectors value this signature since it was his first year that he appeared in Winston Cup Series races. The card is limited to just 350 copies, which seems like a lot compared to more recent racing cards, but its availability on the secondary market has greatly dwindled over the years.
3. 1998 Press Pass Signings Dale Earnhardt Jr. Autograph #39
By far one of the top Dale Earnhardt Jr. autographs, 1998 Press Pass Signings has become one of his most difficult and expensive cards to locate. Racing card collectors are probably well acquainted with his usual "Dale Jr." signature on the majority of his cards during the past twenty-plus years. These get extra attention because he signed his full name, making this a must-own card if you can swing it.
If this early autograph proves too elusive, Dale Jr. has many other autographs from Press Pass.
2. 1994 Press Pass Optima XL Dale Earnhardt RC #46
1994 Press Pass Optima XL cards were a bit taller than the standard issue, but more importantly, featured a subset dedicated to the Earnhardt Family. Different members of the Earnhardt family in racing, including Dale Sr., were given a card in the set. The Dale Earnhardt Jr. rookie card can be found in both a gold foil and red foil version. The gold foil is considered the base card, while the Red Hot red foil edition is a little tougher to find.
1. 1994 Wheels High Gear Dale Earnhardt Jr. RC #183
1994 Wheels High Gear focused on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and Busch Grand National Series drivers, but also managed to squeeze in a card for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Series Two (#101-200), who was still two years away from joining the circuit. The initial attraction for racing collectors was the autographs of more accomplished drivers like Jeff Gordon. However, the Dale Earnhardt Jr. rookie card has since become one of the most popular racing cards from the period. The Day One (Day 1) parallel shown below commands a premium and came in marked boxes from the start of the production run. There is also a base gold and a Day One gold version.