Dale Earnhardt Jr. misses racing more than he expected a year after he took retirement. He isn’t shocked that he misses NASCAR but is surprised by how much he misses it.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Regrets Retirement
The two-time Daytona 500 champion showed up at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. As the honorary starter for this year’s 36-Race NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series schedule, he drove the ceremonial Chevrolet apache truck across the 2.5-mile track.
When he was driving around in the Chevy Silverado at the iconic Daytona track, he said he was flooded with memories and emotions. During a press conference on Sunday, he reflected on his first year of retirement,
“I thought when I got out of the car, I’d miss is really bad, and that would kind of wane off a little bit over time. But it’s actually the other way around. When I got out of the car, I was like, ‘Thank God I’m gonna have some time off.’ … You never get tired of driving a race car. It’s not bad. It’s just you’re so happy to be out from under that pressure. But as time goes on, you miss it more and more, which is unexpected. I didn’t think that would happen.”
The 44-year-old officially retired from racing at the end of 2017 season of NASCAR Cup Series in the No.88 Chevrolet. Since then, he has transitioned from race car driver to TV commentator for NBC, which broadcast the second half of the 36-race season. When asked if working as a TV commentator has been easy or hard, he said,
“For sure, it’s different than I expected. I thought when I got out that I would miss it bad, (but) that it would wane over time. Actually, it’s gone the other way...And so, you start thinking about those things and you miss it more and more as time goes on. And I’m OK with that. I think that will help me in my job as a broadcaster to have that passion for it and miss it. That will keep some of that energy and that spirit in my work in the booth. So I think I wouldn’t do as good a job in the booth if I didn’t miss it as much.
He says that his memories from the race tracks help him in his new job in the broadcast booth. Now, many expect that, being one of the favorite NASCAR drivers of all time, he will certainly get inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.