Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced many challenging moments throughout his NASCAR racing career. He pushed his way past some difficult situations that shaped his life. Earnhardt’s wife Amy played a pivotal role in helping him kick a tough nicotine addiction while also helping him through other career hurdles.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s wife helped him through his concussion problems
Earnhardt‘s journey through his nearly two-decade career as a full-time Cup Series driver featured several challenging moments.
The two-time Daytona 500 winner went through frightening instances at the tail end of his time on the NASCAR track due to experiencing strong concussion-like symptoms. His physical struggles forced him to end the 2016 season prematurely.
During that stretch, his wife played a massive part in his recovery. Earnhardt has repeatedly credited Amy for giving him the mental fortitude and fight to persevere.
“I would have been in such a despair emotionally being alone waking up every day with those symptoms on my own that I would have probably given up,” Earnhardt said during an appearance on In Depth With Graham Bensinger.
The NASCAR Hall of Famer also holds great admiration toward his wife for another deep-rooted reason.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s wife forced him to kick a tough addiction: ‘Could be a dealbreaker for me’
Throughout much of Earnhardt’s NASCAR racing career, he kept his nicotine addiction out of the public eye.
It wasn’t until the latter stages of his time behind the wheel that he shed light on his habit. Smoking was something that his dad disapproved of before his tragic passing.
Earnhardt continued for 15 years, smoking a pack and a half each day. However, his addiction stopped cold in its tracks after a few months of dating his now-wife. In an interview with NBC Sports in May 2019, Earnhardt voiced that Amy Earnhardt played a pivotal role in helping kick the habit in 2011.
“I was trying to quit and tried a couple of times and failed, and it was so disappointing for her,” Earnhardt said. “Eventually she said to me, ‘Look man, are you really going to get this done? Are you really going to eventually quit?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know if I can.’ And she goes well, ‘Honestly, that could be a dealbreaker for me.’ And I said, ‘Damn, really?’”
“She said, ‘Yeah, if you’re not sure, and this is something that is going to be part of our relationship going forward, I just don’t know.’ So that was a tough conversation that had to be had, and I finally figured out how to get it out of my system when I truly wanted to quit. You have to have that conviction to do it, but it was really, really hard.”
The risk of losing Amy was the push he needed to step away from the addiction. That path featured tough mental hurdles that he managed to navigate toward a healthier lifestyle. Earnhardt hasn’t smoked in nearly a decade, and he’s using his journey to help others kick the habit.
Remains happy in NASCAR retirement
Although the transition to retirement hasn’t been easy, Earnhardt has maintained complete conviction with the decision.
Beyond his co-ownership of JR Motorsports, he holds a strong connection to the sport. He picked up broadcast duties through NBC Sports, covering the second half of the NASCAR season.
Meanwhile, he also hosts a weekly podcast, Dale Jr. Download, which has quickly become an extremely popular show. Earnhardt has a strong desire to race, but his health and growing family have kept him off the track aside from his annual tradition of one Xfinity Series race.
With Amy alongside him, Earnhardt Jr. is moving confidently and comfortably through retirement.