Dale Earnhardt Jr. elected to step into retirement after the 2017 season primarily due to health concerns. His ventures now involve business matters off the track along with spending time with his family. However, Earnhardt recently revealed he could have taken a much different path with his NASCAR career.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps into NASCAR retirement due to health concerns
Throughout much of his racing career, Earnhardt shrugged off any concerns regarding head issues.
His lack of attention toward those lingering problems led to massive health problems in 2016 after experiencing significant concussion-like symptoms. It forced him to prematurely end his racing season as he required several months to recover fully.
Although he returned for the 2017 campaign, his health problems heavily contributed to his decision to step into retirement after that season. Since then, he’s openly discussed his career in every aspect, including detailing his fears and difficulties with concussions.
It’s led him to voice a telling revelation about his racing career.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. shockingly admits his 2016 concussion symptom scare wouldn’t have forced him to retire: ‘Without my wife and kids, I probably would have went back’
Earnhardt experienced his share of scares involving dealing with more than 20 concussions.
During a recent interview on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast, Earnhardt revealed had he not experienced the 2016 head issues or had a family, he would still be racing.
“If that never happened, I would probably race well into my late 40s,” Earnhardt said. “I think if I hadn’t got married and had kids, and with that incident in 2016, I might still be racing today. When I only had myself to live for, I would probably myself back in that same situation.
“My doctor would tell me after that incident in 2016 that I was fine and that I am at no more risk than the other guys out there. But I am like ‘Wait I am damaged right? I have had this injury and it seems like I would be at risk more so than the guy racing the car behind me.’ He was like ‘nope you’re good. You can go race. You can get hurt, but so can he .and you’re not going to get it easier than him.’
“Without my wife and kids, I probably would have went back to it and I would have probably got sick again and got her again. Who knows where that would have sent me.”
Over the last few years, Earnhardt has publicly credited his wife multiple times for being the reason he got through his 2016 concussion issues. So it’s no surprise to hear that his mindset would be different if he didn’t possess a significant other and children. His passion for racing is unwavering, and his family may have saved him from a disastrous result.
Connection to NASCAR remains strong
Although Earnhardt still deals with the itch to get behind the wheel, he’s satisfied with his decision to retire.
The 46-year-old has found other ways to feed his passion for the sport. He’s continued his tradition to race at least one Xfinity Series race per season to maintain his feel for the car, along with the first-hand emotions that come with racing.
Meanwhile, he’s still the part-owner of JR Motorsports and holds broadcast duties with NBC Sports, covering the second half of the season. Earnhardt also hosts a highly successful podcast, Dale Jr. Download, where he often interviews guests associated with the sport or his father’s racing career.
All that has kept his connection to racing remains strong, if not more consistent, due to his various workings off the track. Earnhardt is happy with where his life regarding his continued involvement with NASCAR balanced alongside his family life.