He is also the grandson of both NASCAR driver Ralph Earnhardt and stock car fabricator Robert Gee, the brother of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, the half-brother of former driver Kerry Earnhardt, the uncle of driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, the stepson of Teresa Earnhardt, and the older half-brother of Taylor Nicole Earnhardt-Putnam. His first race car was a 1979 Monte Carlo that he co-owned with his older half-brother, Kerry Earnhardt.
Earnhardt's success at Daytona International Speedway throughout his career has earned him the nickname "Pied Piper" of Daytona. By age 19 after two seasons of driving Street Stock Division, Earnhardt had honed his driving abilities to the point of joining the Late Model Stock Car Division.
He was docked 25 points, however, after his car failed post-race inspection.
Earnhardt raced at Rockingham the following weekend, but finished in 43rd-place after a wreck on the first lap that looked eerily similar to his father's wreck just a week earlier.
2000 was Earnhardt's breakout year in the Cup Series.
He competed for the Raybestos NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award in 2000.
He struggled for most of the race, and was at points a half-lap down, only catching back up to the pack through a caution.
The win was controversial because with 5 laps to go, it appeared that Earnhardt went below the yellow line to gain position, but NASCAR ruled that Matt Kenseth had forced him below the line, making it a clean pass.