Dale Earnhardt Jr. has held a strong pulse on NASCAR even after stepping into retirement from racing. He has continued to use his platform to discuss the various issues that arise concerning the sport and believes he has the clear-cut solution to improving Richmond Raceway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s prominent presence around NASCAR
Over the last several years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has remained a significant fixture in the NASCAR scene.
Beyond his involvement as the co-owner of JR Motorsports, he has undertaken broadcast duties for NBC Sports, covering races since the 2018 season. Meanwhile, his weekly podcast, Dale Jr. Download, has kept him well in the loop with the daily workings of the sport.
All that has guided him down a familiar path of voicing his feelings on how to fix a particular NASCAR track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. vigorously advocates a way NASCAR can improve Richmond Raceway
Over the years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has remained vocal regarding what he believes will help improve the sport.
One such improvement would involve a considerable alteration to Richmond Raceway’s track. After watching this past week’s race, Earnhardt Jr. voiced during the latest episode of the Dale Jr. Download that he believes NASCAR should use asphalt sealer to get better movement and car speed.
“The track gets better and the drivers get more comfortable,” he said. “But eventually, over years and many many races, that sealer wears away. If guys are running at the bottom of the race track, they will eventually use that sealer up, and they will have go up the race track to find more sealer.
“You just keep doing that over a period time, where you keep going higher, higher, and higher. Race after race after race, you’re going further up the race track chasing that sealer. Kind of like cushion at dirt track to find speed and grip until you’re way up the track. It just makes the track really dynamic and adds multiple grooves.”
Earnhardt Jr. added that drivers would be upset about the first race due to how difficult it would be to compete on the course. However, he sees the benefit of having a more action-packed event that would see plenty of movement up and down the track.
The end goal is to create thrilling races for fans, and Earnhardt Jr. has long seen that as a resolution to the lingering problem at Richmond.
Richmond Raceway remains hesitant to embrace Dale Jr.’s suggestion
While Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains vocal, he’s well aware of the concern that arises from using asphalt sealer.
“The problem is that I asked Richmond about sealing the track, and they are afraid it takes a lot of years off the life of the surface,” he voiced. “It could actually end up breaking the surface apart. The improved grip will pull and tug the forces on that asphalt as the cars go around the corner.
“They are afraid that it will break that surface apart they will have to eventually repave the track years before the would have hoped. So that’s the fear in it.”
It isn’t the first time Earnhardt Jr. has vouched for using asphalt sealer as he stated to NBC Sports in April 2016 that Bristol Motor Speedway should use it to create more passing on the track.
He also voiced those concerns to Richmond Raceway in May 2007. At the time, track president Doug Fritz responded via MotorSports that he was surprised by Dale Jr.’s comments.
The course hadn’t received sealer since it was resurfaced before the 2004 season. Meanwhile, many of the drivers, including Earnhardt Jr., provided positive reviews touting the quality of the repaving work.
All that said, Earnhardt Jr. understands why Richmond would be hesitant to head that route given the risks involved. The doubts stem from the long-term effects that could create problems down the road.
Ultimately, there is simply a need for improvement on a track that continues to receive complaints from NASCAR fans.