Dale Earnhardt‘s NASCAR career took a drastically different path once he chose to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. His decision led him to join Rick Hendrick to drive for his company Hendrick Motorsports. The move guided Earnhardt Jr. to the belief that Hendrick saved his racing career three times.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins Hendrick Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent the first 10 years of his NASCAR career as a firm fixture for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
However, his path changed drastically after the 2007 campaign as he chose to depart from the company due to internal issues with his stepmom Teresa Earnhardt. It had become a toxic environment for his career as she prevented him from garnering a controlling interest of the company.
Earnhardt Jr. instead chose to embark on a fresh start with Rick Hendrick driving for Hendrick Motorsports. It was that career choice that wound up helping him in more ways than he could ever imagine.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. says a major NASCAR figure saved his career three times
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. decided to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. to join Hendrick Motorsports, it changed the entire course of his career.
At the time, Earnhardt Jr. didn’t realize the tremendous positive impact that the move would have on his life. In his final season in November 2017, he voiced that Rick Hendrick saved his NASCAR racing career three times. (H/T Racing News)
“He gave me a second chance, even a third chance. I felt like I was gunna go down with the ship at DEI if I stayed there. He gave me an opportunity to go to his place, which was healthy and considered on the best teams in the business.”
“Then, when we had our struggles in 2009-2010, those years when we weren’t winning. Any other driver would have been let go. He hung on to me. Told me over and over that we would get it right. That he believed in me and that when we got the right combination of people, that it would work.”
Earnhardt Jr. views Hendrick as more than a mentor and positive figure in his life. He has repeatedly voiced that the longtime NASCAR team owner helped fill the massive father-figure void left after his dad’s death.
The two-time Daytona 500 winner has also voiced that he has aided him in his relationship with his wife Amy and other businesses away from racing. The impact that Hendrick has made changed the direction of Earnhardt’s life for the better.
His life is forever entangled with NASCAR
Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not have had the type of success he hoped to garner with Hendrick Motorsports, but the move has benefitted him in many other ways.
Rick Hendrick’s support and guidance helped him grow into the person he has become today. Earnhardt Jr. also remains a prominent beloved figure in the sport despite stepping into retirement.
He hosts an extremely popular weekly podcast covering NASCAR, while he’s become a fixture in the broadcast booth for NBC Sports. His fingerprints remain on the sport well beyond his co-ownership of JR Motorsports, and that will stay the course for many years ahead.