TALLADEGA, AL (WTVM) - Six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr and one of his biggest fans, a child with cancer, spent the day hanging out before the CampingWorld.com 500 race.
Austin Freeman,12, got to see his favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., race up-close and person on Sunday. Freeman was accompanied by his mom, sister and grandparents from Macon, GA for the exciting day.
Freeman was treated just like one of the drivers. Starting his morning early, he walked the red carpet, attended the drivers meeting and had a chance to tour the racing facilities. Soon everyone knew of Freeman and his story.
Freeman has a rare pediatric bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. He will soon begin chemotherapy treatments and will have surgery sometime next year.
"This cancer is dangerous. It fights and doesn't play around," said Austin.
Austin says the surgery consists of taking the whole right side of his pelvis away. Several times during the day, Austin had to rest his legs because of the cancer, but he didn't let that stop him from being in good spirits.
"You are having a pretty good weekend are you?" said announcer.
"Oh yeah!!" Austin replied.
The announcer asked again, "We'll who do you think is going to win?"
"This is Dale Earhardt turf, he better win!" said Austin.
Freeman got to see Earhardt Jr. off at his number 88 car before the race
"It's just a blessing to be here," said Austin.
Earnhardt, Jr. introduced Austin to his fiancee on the sidelines. By the start of the race, Earnhardt made sure everyone knew Austin was his guest for the day as he was stopped by several people along the way to give him well wishes.
One man told Austin, "I have cancer too, we're gonna beat this with God's help."
The Earnhardt superfan was also able to meet his crew chief and learned some valuable tips from the experts.
Austin says he has a love for NASCAR and has followed the careers of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and his son. Austin was also able to meet other racers. He received and autographed hat and shirt from Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished in second place, but will not advance to the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Austin will begin his chemo on Monday. The cancer was in remission but came back 15 months ago.