Dale Earnhardt Jr talks future plans and cool moments following his one-off return to NASCAR last night
Dale Earnhardt Jr is fresh off his one-off return to NASCAR. The 15-time most popular driver has returned for the first time since his full-time retirement following the 2017 racing season.
Leading up the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr went testing. Only, he didn’t do it in a NASCAR race car. Instead, he picked up one of his JR Motorsports late models and hauled it over to Hickory Motor Speedway.
It worked just fine. Dale Jr jumped right out of the gate and put it in the top-five during the first practice session. He then put it on the front row for the race.
He went to finish 3rd in stage 1. He then won stage 2 (the first stage win of his career). Following the 250-lap race on Friday night he was credited with a 3rd place finish in the event.
But, there’s talk of Dale Earnhardt Jr running a late model race.
“Oh we will. We’ll cross that bridge one day,” Elliott Sadler refers to racing a late model with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr comments on running a late model in the future
Dale Earnhardt Jr already has all the tools he needs to make that happen. By that, I mean that JR Motorsports fields cars on the CARS Tour, a late model series.
“I’d love to race a late model one more time, somewhere. I’d love to take Elliott wherever he wants to go in one of our cars,” Dale Earnhardt Jr stated in the media center at Richmond Raceway.
“I got a car in the shop now that I need to build. Me and him can just goof off and maybe run a couple races a year, for as long as he wants. We certainly would have fun doing that.”
“I always think back to the late model days as probably the funnest racing that I did. You went with your buddies, whoever would go.”
“You’d stop halfway at the beach to get a Mountain Dew and a Slim Jim. [Then], you’d drive the rest of the way.”
“Down in South Carolina at the Beach you’d go to the Huddle House. You didn’t go to the Waffle House. Cause the Waffle House don’t have french toast. But, the Huddle House does.”
“The Huddle House was big time after the race. Unless you wrecked somebody. Then, you didn’t stop.”
“I miss how free and easy that was. As you got higher, it’s a bigger business and much more competitive. Even outside of the car.”
“It gets harder and harder to find enjoyment, the higher you get. You even see the guys that win all the time walkin’ around most of the time with a frown on their face.”
“The late models was always the funnest.”
He stated that he wouldn’t want to jump right into a big race. The late model event at Martinsville Speedway was brought into the topic. He said, “No way.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr returning for a NASCAR race?
Dale Earnhardt Jr has always said that’s he’s only stepped away from full-time NASCAR racing. As of now, there’s already another race in the pipeline.
“I’m probably going to run one more next year,” Dale Earnhardt Jr stated after Richmond Raceway.
“I run these races to help sponsor the rest of those cars. When I run a race, this will sponsor that #7 car about 8-10 races next year. It’s worth it for me to get out there and have a little fun.”
“I won’t do it if it’s a one race deal, just for me. You know, if somebody came to me and said, ‘We want to sponsor you to go run wherever.’ I wouldn’t be interested in that at all. I want to do deals that are packages that help our other teams so we can control our bottom line.”
“Helman’s wants to do another package where I’ll run a race next year. We’ll get 8-10 races for the #7 car. That’s a tremendous amount of support for our company.”
This is the same way that a lot of teams operate including Kyle Busch Motorsports. Dale explains that just by him jumping in the seat he can sign 8-10 race deals for the other guys on his JR Motorsports team.
“I do love to drive. I just don’t want to do it a ton. I wanna be in the booth for a long long time. I don’t want to be out here fooling around on the race track if it’s going to hurt my opportunity to do that.”
There was a new element to the race for Dale Earnhardt Jr on Friday night. It’s not uncommon for families to stand by the race car on pit road during the national anthem.
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) September 21, 2018
However, Dale Earnhardt Jr went his whole career without that moment. Since his retirement, he’s welcomed his daughter into the world.
Ahead of the race at Richmond, he stood by the car with his wife Amy and their daughter Isla.
“If I never run another race… We got a picture with Isla before the race that she’ll have for the rest of her life. It doesn’t matter if she thinks that’s a big deal or not. But, I do want her to have some understanding of what I did before she was born.”
“It’s weird for me to run all those races and now have a child that’s not going to know nothing about it. I’m so happy that I got to have that picture with her before the race.”