Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be in NASCAR retirement, but he has stayed attached to the sport. Earnhardt Jr.’s passion toward racing remains strong but through an entirely different avenue. However, it hasn’t stopped him from experiencing an internal pull to get back onto the track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps into NASCAR retirement
Following more than two decades on the NASCAR track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stepped away from his driving career.
Earnhardt Jr.’s decision came on his own terms after dealing with ongoing health issues. Those lingering problems and concerns guided him to step away in the prime of his time behind the wheel.
As he continues to remain connected to the sport in retirement, he has recently come to a strong realization.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. confesses that he misses driving on the NASCAR track ‘really really bad’
In Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first few years into racing retirement, he has remained prominently around NASCAR.
Earnhardt Jr.’s continued involvement with the sport has only kept that fire and passion within him strong. All that led to him pouring out with emotion after Josh Berry, who competes for JR Motorsports, earned his first NASCAR race win.
During this week’s Dale Jr. Download podcast episode, the 46-year-old voiced that his emotional reaction after Berry’s victory only further underlined how much he misses racing.
“I miss driving really really bad,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “And part of that emotion is that. That moment that emotion was happy for Josh -knowing everything we put into for a decade. Knowing how he looked up that of seeing everyone go by him in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series thinking of ‘When is this going to be me?’
“Missing racing, missing my dad, and other teeny tiny little tinge of emotion. Anything that will give you any emotion going in your life. All of that just came piling out at once.”
Earnhardt added that the emotional moment of Berry’s win let all those other suppressed feelings come flowing entirely out.
“I have been missing race pretty bad recently and I don’t know how to (Deal with it),” Earnhardt said. “It’s gotten worse as I have moved away from the day I retired. It’s not gotten easier, It’s gotten harder to come to terms with the fact that my career is over. That’s it.
“I miss going to the track. I miss being a regular at the track and being in that fraternity. There are a lot of things that I miss about I didn’t enjoy that I have forgotten.”
The passion for driving is certainly there for Earnhardt Jr., but whether he allows that to push him back onto the track again is another story.
His NASCAR racing future remains in his full control
Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have stepped away from his Cup Series driving career, but he has taken the track on a few instances since 2017.
He has used JR Motorsports to compete in at least one Xfinity Series race over the last three years. There is no current indication if that trend will continue in 2021. However, Earnhardt Jr. will be on the track as the pace car in his dad’s restored 1984 Chevy Nova for an Xfinity Series race next month at Darlington Raceway.
His comments from earlier this week are eye-opening, but it comes coupled with him saying he knows his days behind the wheel are done. The passion for racing clearly hasn’t diminished, if anything, it has only grown stronger.
Time will only tell if it leads him to more than a one-off race on the NASCAR track.