Dale Earnhardt Jr. Thinks There’s a Place in NASCAR for NFL Quarterbacks

Over the years, race car drivers haven’t received uniform recognition as athletes. Many drivers, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., have underlined the physical and mental strain that competing behind the wheel entails.

Although NASCAR drivers, let alone race car drivers, may never garner that acknowledgment, they possess similar traits to other athletes. Earnhardt recently pinpointed a keen example of where race car drivers and NFL quarterbacks are the same.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shined on the NASCAR track

Dale Earnhardt Jr. mentally prepares for a NASCAR race.
Dale Earnarhdt Jr. looks on before he competes in a NASCAR race. | Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Earnhardt spent nearly two decades behind the wheel as a full-time Cup Series driver.

Although he had rough patches in his racing career, he experienced some memorable success. He won 26 Cup Series races, headlined by two Daytona 500 victories. He placed inside the top 10 in the point standings seven times, including four top-five finishes.

Earnhardt is among the all-time leaders in restrictor-plate wins, ranking tied for sixth with 10 such victories. Beyond that, he captured back-to-back Xfinity Series championships before becoming a full-time Cup Series driver. His entire resume and impact on the sport led him to receive an induction as part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame class.

The 47-year-old’s vast experience on the NASCAR track has allowed him to single out one distinct character that race car drivers and NFL quarterbacks share.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. thinks there’s a place in NASCAR for NFL Quarterbacks

As much slack as race car drivers receive for their place in the conversation of being considered athletes, it’s hard to deny the physical and mental fortitude it requires to excel.

The drivers experience high-intensity moments during races while driving at great speed. During a recent interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Dale Earnhardt Jr. detailed a shared physical ability that race car drivers have with many athletes, especially NFL quarterbacks.

“Yeah I think, when we raced at Daytona at Talladega and when you’re in the lead of the draft and you got 40 cars behind you, you’re looking in the mirror,” Earnhardt Jr. said when asked if there was one track he could drive with his eyes closed. “You are driving the race car and looking through the windshield but you’re also looking through the [rearview] mirror watching what’s going on behind you probably three-quarters of the lap. You might run the whole lap watching that mirror.

“The great we develop as drivers, and I probably think all athletes have this ability, especially quarterbacks in the NFL, have amazing peripheral vision. They can focus on an object in front of them but also see other things happening around them and make adjustments based on their peripheral vision, and that’s what a race car driver does.”

As Earnhardt keenly pointed out, peripheral vision is pivotal as it allows for necessary adjustments to be made. An NFL quarterback needs to see or gather the innate sense of pressure around them, especially from their blindside.

The same goes for race car drivers, as there is the necessity on every lap to be simultaneously aware of the other drivers ahead or behind them. That skill is vital for a professional driver to succeed in the sport.

NFL quarterbacks and race car drivers may not have many similarities, but this is certainly one area where their skill sync.

NASCAR drivers may never receive athlete recognition

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s example is just one of many athletic characteristics that a race car driver possesses.

However, the recognition of being an athlete for NASCAR drivers is an uphill battle they may never overcome. The optics of sitting behind the wheel doesn’t sit well for casual sports fans. Golf deals with much of the same dialogue because not every golfer possesses the “athletic” physique typically required in sports.

Nonetheless, NASCAR knows where it stands and will remain one of the most popular sports entities.

Like Sportscasting on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @sportscasting19.

RELATED: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Escaped the 9-5 Lifestyle Through NASCAR: ‘I Hated Working for a Living’