Since retiring from his professional driving career, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains heavily involved with NASCAR. Earnhardt Jr.’s strong association with sports has seen him continue to compete on a limited basis in retirement. Those parameters have pushed forward a crucial decision around his status for the 2021 season ahead of next month’s start date.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s career in retirement
Dale Earnhardt Jr. stepped away from his professional driving career in 2018 after nearly two decades in the sport.
The 46-year-old notably struggled with his health due to concussion symptoms that significantly contributed to his decision. Over the last couple of years in retirement, Earnhardt Jr. has remained around NASCAR both in the broadcast booth with NBC as a color commentator and through JR Motorsports.
Beyond that, his racing team presents the opportunity to sporadically compete in races in each of his first three years in retirement. Earnhardt Jr. looks to be aiming at keeping that tradition going for the 2021 season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds a looming decision ahead with NASCAR
Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. stepped away from his professional driving career in 2017, he remains heavily attached to NASCAR.
Albeit in a broadcast booth, his passion for the sport still runs deep, pushing him to continue his one race a year trend in retirement.
According to NBC Sports, Earnhardt Jr. stated last October that he would return to the Xfinity Series for another race in 2021. The NASCAR Hall of Famer has worked with a Unilever brand since 2009 and competed in at least one Xfinity race every year.
“My partnership with Unilever has grown so much over the years, and I’m proud to say they’ve been a huge part of what we’ve built at JRM,” Earnhardt said in a statement from the team. “Unilever’s commitment to our team and the series has been unwavering, and we’re prepared to take that success even further.”
Nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s a matter of time before the 46-year-old decides which event he will race. Given his desire to compete in a familiar venue, it narrows down the list between Darlington Raceway, Richmond Raceway, and Homestead-Miami Speedway. He currently holds 24 Xfinity Series race wins in 142 races over the last 24 years.
The only other factor that is certain is he will likely compete behind the wheel of the Hellmann’s-sponsored #8 Chevrolet.
Resolution lies ahead…at some point
There remains uncertainty around what race Dale Earnhardt Jr. will compete in, but there is plenty of time to work out the details.
The 2021 season for the Xfinity series doesn’t officially begin until Feb. 13. The schedule has Homestead-Miami Speedway lined up for Feb. 27, Darlington Raceway on May 8 and Sept. 4, and Richmond Raceway on Sept. 11. If Earnhardt Jr. were to pass up Homestead-Miami Speedway next month, he would have a few months to decide which track he wants to race.
The expectation is that he will bypass that first event, given that he won’t likely compete in the same event two years in a row. What also leans things in that direction is the February race date is too early for his sponsor Hellmann. All that could see him back on the track as early as May at Darlington Raceway if he so chooses.
Ultimately, Earnhardt Jr. will be behind the wheel for at least one race at some point in the 2021 Xfinity Series season.