Racing drivers are adrenaline junkies, so even when they retire, almost all of them leave the door open for a one-off return to get their fixes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is no different.
Earnhardt reiterated Sunday that, while he’s retiring from full-time competition in the Monster Energy NASCAR Series after this season, he isn’t shelving his helmet for good, according to The Associated Press, via USA TODAY. The 42-year-old already is slated to run in some Xfinity Series races in 2018 and reportedly isn’t ruling out another Daytona 500 appearance in his future.
“I am just retiring from full-time racing. I am going to run some Xfinity races next year,” Earnhardt said, via USA TODAY. “I don’t know that I won’t ever run the Daytona 500 again. I want to continue to be part of the sport. I don’t know how it’s going to affect me, really. It’s hard for me to put that into words because I don’t know what that is going to feel like.”
Although most racers have some trepidation heading into retirement, Earnhardt is specifically uneasy about returning to Daytona International Speedway for the 500 once he’s not driving. That’s likely due to his success on the tri-oval, as he has 18 top-10 finishes, 13 top-fives and four wins in his Cup career there, with two of those wins coming in the Daytona 500.
“It will be pretty weird I think to come back to the 500, Earnhardt said, according to The AP. “I’m going to go to the 500 whether I’ve got any work to do or not. It will be pretty weird to be there and not race.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver reportedly is concerned his post-NASCAR life will be like that of Steve Letarte, his former crew chief. Letarte, who Earnhardt might join next year as an analyst on NBC Sports, told him it used to be tough to go to a race after he stopped working.
At least Earnhardt can take comfort in knowing that’s not the case for everybody who leaves the sport. Both Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart said at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday that they’re as happy as they’ve ever been since retiring from Cup.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images