On Tuesday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the track for testing at the Daytona 500.
While racing fans from all over were no doubt thrilled to see him back on the track, the former superstar made it clear that he doesn’t plan on getting back behind the wheel for competitive NASCAR races.
When asked if his testing session made him want to get back behind the wheel at Daytona, Earnhardt said he wants to put his family first and leaving his risk-taking days in the rearview.
“I’m old—47 years old,” Earnhardt said. “Take a guy like (Hendrick driver) William Byron. He’s young (24). He’s a risk-taker. I’m done taking risks. I’ve got two little girls I love being around. I’ve put my wife through a lot. She put everything in her world on pause for eight or 10 years while we did all that.
“Once you get to a certain age… you’ve got willing to go out there and put it all on the line,” he added. “I don’t know if I really have that instinct anymore.”
Racing fans from around the NASCAR world respected Earnhardt’s reasoning.
First is their any doubt why this man is my favorite of all time?! Completely genuine and as a husband/father could not respect his stance more.
— andy (@JvGenscoach) January 12, 2022
Dale Jr is one of the most thoughtful, introspective, and interesting athletes/celebrities to me. I always love listening to him explaining his thought process on things. It’s also contagious when he gets excited about stuff.
— Josh Meek (@PrettyDeceJosh) January 12, 2022
I wouldn’t want him back in a car for a Daytona 500 anyway. He’s too precious of an asset for NASCAR and it’s global popularity. We need him around, associated with the sport, for a long long time. He’s gonna run 1 Xfinity race every year too! Thats good enough! https://t.co/bBxS0LsvWQ
— Ruddkip (@TRuddkip) January 12, 2022
Dale Jr., now a race analyst for NBC Sports, stepped away from full-time driving after the 2017 season.
According to a recent report from Autoweek, Earnhardt worked out a deal with Hendricks, his former team, to run test laps at Daytona in order to become familiar with the new NextGen car. He also suggested that he plans on running the occasional race in the Xfinity Series for his own team.