Dale Earnhardt Jr went to sit in his old seat, got to talking and nearly missed final practice ahead of his return
Dale Earnhardt Jr returned to the drivers seat for the first time since Homestead of last year. In the post-retirement age of his NASCAR career, he still had commitments to complete.
The one-off NASCAR Xfinity Series race was a part of a sponsorship package that was signed before he announced his retirement. Dale Jr ran that race this weekend at Richmond Raceway.
The weekend started off great. He placed the #88 machine in the top-5 in the opening round of practice after being absent from the seat for just under a full year.
In the second practice session, rain fell at the 10 minute mark. When it restarted, Earnhardt was nowhere in sight. He missed a large portion of the final practice session. At the conclusion of final practice he was 16th on the board with just a handful of laps at the end of the session.
“I was a little late!” Earnhardt stated as he returned to the commentary booth. “So we had the first practice, everything was pretty good, car was good I was happy, couple of things to work on.”
“It started raining. Started getting bored, didn’t know what to do with myself. So I walked down to the 88 hauler, to sit in my old seat in the driver’s lounge with my driver’s suit on. I’m like ‘that’ll feel good!’ ”
“I was talking to Greg Ives [his former crew chief] – and I made Greg sick to his stomach when he initially saw me – and then practice started, so I ran and got me about four laps – got enough laps, got a good read on it, but… just about missed the last practice entirely.”
“So that’s what happens when you’re trying to do things, we’re patching all this together and it’s kinda held together by two bits of tape! This is what happens.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr didn’t need practice. He put the car on the outside front row for the race in Virginia.
The green flag dropped on the Xfinity Series race later that night. He drove it to the front of the field in stage two and picked up the first stage win of his racing career.
Dale Earnhardt Jr finished the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway in 3rd.
“I sure enjoyed racing this weekend. Thanks to everyone who worked extra hard at JR Motorsports. Thanks to the fans I met this weekend who made the trip. Let’s do it again sometime next year,” Dale Earnhardt Jr tweeted after the event.