SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. has spent this season working in the broadcast booth for the first time in his career, but he will make another “first” in two weeks at Richmond Raceway. Although he has retired from full-time racing, he will make a one-race start in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Sept. 21 Xfinity Series race at the track.
It will be his first NASCAR start since he climbed out of his Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale in Homestead, Florida, last November — and it might just be his last, he hinted.
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“I’m looking forward to it,’’ Earnhardt said of his Xfinity Series debut this season. “I didn’t miss racing at the start of the year at all. I didn’t miss driving much. When I got back to the broadcasting and started to really plug into what the races were like and what was going on, you see moments in the races that make you wish you were out there doing that. And so, I started to miss it a little bit.
“I like Richmond as a track. And it’s a pretty straightforward little race track. We have had success there. I’m not really putting any expectations or pressure on myself as far as performance. I just want to go run and have fun.”
And, Earnhardt said, it just may be the last time he enters a major NASCAR race.
“It’s the only time I’m going to race a car this year. And it may be the last time I race a car,’’ he said.
“I really don’t know what our plans are going forward. I don’t really have any initiative to drive a ton of races. So, we’ll just kind of see what kind of opportunities there are down the road with the sponsorships and so forth that help the rest of the company. But, hopefully I get to run all the laps and just enjoy driving the car.
“The only reason you get behind the wheel of a race car is because it’s fun and you enjoy the competition. Hopefully those are things that I get out of it and try not to get real competitive about it. I don’t want to sweat over every lap and how fast we are in practice and all those things, and make it a miserable experience because most race car drivers tend to do that if you’re not careful.”
— Contributing: Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service