Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to get back to racing again. The man that fans fondly call, “Junior,” is chomping at the bit to get back in the No.88 Nationwide Chevrolet in about a month at one of his favorite tracks. Earnhardt talked with the assembled media at the 35th Annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway
It’s been a long six months since fans have seen Earnhardt in his ride, but Earnhardt is just as anxious as his loving fans. A crash in June at Michigan International Speedway caused NASCAR’s most popular driver to suffer symptoms of a concussion which became worse after the race at Kentucky Speedway in July. As a result, he did not complete the season but had a very full December. He married his long-time fiancé in December and pondered his future in the sport he loves. He saw a younger Carl Edwards step away from racing for three reasons, one of which was health concerns.
“To get approved to race is one thing but to decide to race is another,” Earnhardt said. “You have to make the decision if you want to keep racing and if you want to keep racing you’ve got to give 100 percent. I had to answer a lot of personal questions from myself and just really buy in (to returning). All of that was a process and I’m really happy with what I decided to do.
“I’m just hoping to enjoy what’s left of my career and hopefully I get to make the decision myself as far as how much longer I want to race. I’m really excited about my future.”
In the years prior to his injury, Earnhardt was a hot commodity on the track. He won seven races in 2014 and 2015, one of which was his second Daytona 500 in 2014, so he’s not ready to retire quite yet. There is much left to do.
“People have asked me since I turned 40 when I will retire. All I’ve ever said is that I want to be able to make that decision myself. I don’t know when I’m going to stop racing but I want to be able to make that choice and not have it made for me. All that stuff really showed me how much I’ve got going for me and how fun this really is. You can make it difficult or you can enjoy it. This is an incredible position to be in. I can see how you can get burned out a little bit but I’m certainly not feeling that way right now.”
That has to be good news to his many fans.