Dale Earnhardt Jr. strung together a NASCAR racing career that spanned over two decades in the sport. Earnhardt Jr. spent the second half of that run competing for Hendrick Motorsports. During that span, it saw Rick Hendrick fill a gaping void in Dale Jr.’s life left by his father.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s connection to Rick Hendrick
Throughout Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s time behind the wheel in NASCAR, Rick Hendrick has held a prominent spot in his life.
Things drastically changed in that dynamic after Earnhardt Jr. chose to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. after the 2007 season. His decision guided him over to sign with Hendrick Motorsports despite a strong push from Joe Gibbs Racing.
Earnhardt Jr. spent the final decade of his career with the company, where he established a life-long relationship with Hendrick. None has proven stronger than that connection that has extended far beyond any NASCAR track.
Following Earnhardt’s final race of his last full season in 2017, he underlined Hendrick’s massive importance in his life.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed Rick Hendrick to fill a massive void left by his father
Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent the last decade of his NASCAR racing career competing for Hendrick Motorsports.
During that tenure, Earnhardt Jr. cultivated a strong relationship off-the-track with team owner Rick Hendrick. The connection between them goes far beyond any business matter that rang crystal clear following his final race in 2017 that Hendrick was a father figure to him. (H/T Front Stretch)
“We tried to talk to each other before I got in the car, but I couldn’t stop crying,” Earnhardt said. “I told him how much I appreciated what he had done for me personally and professionally as a driver – that was easy to thank him for that. But what he’s done for me as a person has been so much more important than anything else.
“He’s helped me become a better person and a good husband. He’s been like a father to me, and I really feel like he filled a void for me in my life. You hope that doesn’t change, and I don’t expect it to. He’s like a father and has done so much for me personally. I’ll never be able to repay that man for what he has done for me.”
Earnhardt’s life had a gaping hole after his father’s death, which Hendrick helped provide much-needed guidance. His impact on Dale Jr. went far beyond any race track as he helped shape the man he has become.
Lasting familial bond that will forever remain
As Rick Hendrick has done for several others over the years, he garnered an invaluable relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Hendrick has made a life-changing impact on Earnhardt Jr. that has played a pivotal role in shaping him as a person. Dale Jr. may not have had the type of success he wanted during his time racing for Hendrick Motorsports, but he got exactly what he needed off the track.
He found a father figure that helped him become a better person, husband, and dad. It’s something that Earnhardt Jr. will forever be indebted to what Hendrick brought to his life.
The two have formed an everlasting bond that means much more than any race win or achievement.