The son of the great Dale Earnhardt Sr., he retired from professional racing in 2017 and now works in the broadcast booth, but this past week, he got behind the wheel of one of the new Next Gen cars at one of the most iconic tracks in racing… Daytona.
However, at 47 years old Dale Jr. is just a few years older than some of the older drivers in the Cup Series. Harvick is 46, Ryan Newman is 44, Kurt Busch is 43… so with Jr. getting behind the wheel at Daytona this week, he was asked if he got the itch to get back into racing.
The answer was a resounding… NO.
“I’m old… 47 years old… take a guy like William Byron, he’s young, he’s a risk-taker… I’m done taking risks. I got two little girls that I love being around, and I’ve put my wife through a lot to race half of my career that she was with me.
And I just don’t know, at 47 years old, that I’d be willing to take the risks out on the racetrack that a young guy like William Byron is willing to do.
I’ve always wondered, what happens to these guys when the performance sort of starts to nose over? Your the wins become top 5’s and the top5’s become top 10’s… some of these guys race well beyond their successful years and I always wondered what the cause was of the performance.
I think a lot of it’s your risk assessment, and your willingness to put yourself in very dangerous situations time and time again.
We used to say that when young guys would come in and they would have this amazing raw speed, we used say ‘well that haven’t hit anything hard yet’ and that sure slows you down.
When I was out there in the pack, watching those guys get a little crazy… I don’t know that I really have that instinct anymore.”
Jr. added that he was grateful to be able to drive the new car though, as it will give him some firsthand knowledge for the broadcast.
The NASCAR season kicks off on February 6th with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the regular season beginning on February 20th for the Daytona 500.