Jeffrey Earnhardt may have a famous last name but he’s determined to make his mark in NASCAR on his own terms. His determination is unmistakable and his desire undeniable as he talks racing.
This season he has a full-time ride in the Nationwide Series with a new team, JD Motorsports. Jeffrey is committed to the team for believing in him and giving him the opportunity to drive even when he hasn’t had sponsorship.
“Being out there every week has been huge for me,” he said. “It’s definitely helping me learn to be a better driver. I’m fortunate to have an awesome group of guys that I get to work with every weekend.”
However, many of his fans continue to ask about the possibility that Jeffrey will partner with his uncle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. at JR Motorsports. Dale Jr. spoke to the media about his nephew at Darlington Raceway this past weekend.
“I watch him every week during the Nationwide races, he stated. “I think he’s done a couple of good things with that team, had a great qualifying effort at Bristol and got spun out the first lap of the race. He has had some other good situations that I’ve seen where he’s had some speed in practice or in qualifying and in particularly in the race he has done well on a few occasions. We keep an eye on him. Him and I are close; he lives real close to me. He’s supposed to come over to the house Sunday to hang out a little bit. I mean we stay pretty tight.”
While it’s conceivable that Dale Jr. and Jeffrey will team up at some point in his career, Jeffrey is especially pleased that they are forming a closer personal bond and spending time together away from the track.
“I’m not looking for him to hand me a full ride. It would have to be the right scenario,” he explained. “The fact that he’s reaching out to try and create a better relationship, because we didn’t used to have one, he was always busy and I was off doing my own thing, it’s pretty cool.
Jeffrey was competing at Darlington for only the second time in his career. His first experience at the track was in 2011 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Before the race we talked about his goals and the challenges he would face during the race.
“Darlington is a unique track,” he continued. “It’s really hard to learn and get used to. The biggest thing that everyone has always told me about this track is to race the track and not to race other cars.”
Jeffrey qualified in 26th and brought home a 20th place finish. It is his second top-20 of the season and he is currently ranked 17th in the point standings.
“I feel like this team is very capable,” he told me. “It’s my first year with them and we’re still learning but I think we’re capable of a top-15 every weekend. We want to get better each weekend and get everything we can out of these cars.”
NASCAR will take a week off for Easter break but you can catch up with Jeffrey when the action resumes at Richmond International Raceway on April 25th.