Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent more than two decades behind the wheel on the NASCAR track. He experienced plenty of success, earning him a Hall of Fame induction. But, beyond that, the career path helped Earnhardt avoid a lifestyle he absolutely despised.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. constructs Hall of Fame NASCAR career
Earnhardt‘s journey on the NASCAR track began in the Xfinity Series, competing for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
His early success behind a pair of Xfinity Series championships quickly guided him toward becoming a full-time Cup Series driver. Earnhardt didn’t match his dad’s success, but he carved out his path in NASCAR history.
He won races topped by a pair of Daytona 500 victories, including placing in the top 10 in the points standings seven times with four top-five finishes. Earnhardt’s sustained success earned him a NASCAR Hall of Fame induction as part of the 2021 class.
Beyond all that, his racing career provided him an escape from a lifestyle he wanted to avoid.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. escaped the 9-to-5 lifestyle through NASCAR: ‘I hated working for a living’
Earnhardt dove headfirst into becoming a professional driver to build a stronger relationship with his dad.
However, it extended to more personal reasoning beyond the initial desire as he saw a career opportunity unfold in the sport. During his final season, the two-time Daytona 500 winner expressed that racing allowed him to escape having to work a typical 9-5 job.
“I hated working for a living. I didn’t want to work for a living,” Earnhardt said via Sporting News. “This is silly, but the way I thought in ’97, ‘Man, if I could get into an Xfinity car and win just one race, what do I need to do just to say … that’s enough to keep me around?’
“So when I won my first few races in the Xfinity Series, I thought, ‘Well, all right, I’ll be able to keep a job in this sport for a while because of this little bit of success I’ve had.’”
Not only did racing far exceed his expectations, but it gave him a path to avoid the lifestyle he wanted no part of experiencing. Earnhardt possessed more than enough internal motivation to make a career out of it as he went far beyond a few races in the Xfinity Series.
It led him to compete as a full-time Cup Series driver for nearly two decades. Beyond that, his hard work helped him construct an extremely financially comfortable life where he and his family can live without any concerns.
NASCAR remains a significant part of his life in retirement
Although Earnhardt is no longer behind the wheel aside from one Xfinity Series race each year, he remains significantly tied to NASCAR.
He maintains co-ownership of JR Motorsports alongside his sister Kelly and Rick Hendrick. Earnhardt voiced earlier this year the company may explore finally venturing into the Cup Series due to NASCAR introducing the Next-Gen car starting in 2022.
Meanwhile, he’s kept his pulse on the sport through his broadcast duties with NBC Sports covering the second half of the season. He stated that he hopes to hold the position for at least the next 10 to 15 years.
“Even I was young I got to think about what I wanted to be,” Earnhardt Jr. said via Axalta World of Racing. “Well, I got to be that for 20 something years. I still got a lot of life and still got something that I want to be, and I think it’s being a broadcaster. I would really love to be a broadcaster for 10 to 15 years.
Earnhardt also hosts a wildly popular weekly podcast, Dale Jr. Download, which routinely features guests tied to his father and NASCAR. All those endeavors will keep him around the sport for the rest of his life.
As he ventures further into racing retirement, his presence over the sport will remain prevalent.