Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reflects On Past Daytona 500 Nerves: “It’s Regrettable…. I Really Wish I Would’ve Enjoyed The Moment More”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. smiling in front of a crowd
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NASCAR is finally BACK this weekend, with the Daytona 500 set for Sunday.

It’s always a big weekend in racing, as the driver’s return to the track to compete once again for what a lot of them spend their whole career trying to achieve… a victory at the iconic Daytona International Speedway.

And one driver who’s no stranger to wins in Florida?

NASCAR Hall of Famer and two-time Daytona 500 winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Though he’s now retired from racing, he’s still pretty active in the sport, and you can often find him in the NBC broadcast booth or just promoting the sport from the track. This year, he’s mainly in town to promote his new vodka brand, High Rock vodka.

He recently stopped by The Jim Rome Show to talk about how much he misses racing and what he loved about running the Daytona 500… and it wasn’t all Florida sunshine, rainbows and checkered flags:

“I was always bottled up with nerves and anxiety. Probably not super pleasant to be around, to be honest with you. Just, you know… and it’s regrettable to be honest with you.

I really wish I would have enjoyed the moment more than I did, but I was just so, you know, I lived with this fear of failure every single minute of the day.”

It’s hard to imagine someone with so much talent being that nervous, and it’s something I’m sure a lot of us can relate to, but you have to imagine the pressure he felt to be the best as Dale Earnhardt’s son was incredibly intense and almost unbearable.

He says all he could think about most days at the track was winning… which is obviously important (and the whole entire point of racing), but at the same time, he barely ever even enjoyed the most exciting race days of the year because of it:

“You want to have a good result, and that’s really what matters at the end of the day, is how you did… and whether you satisfied this expectation that you had, or everybody else had for you. And so, that was overriding emotion all the time.”

Of course, once he actually got in the car and was able to do what he does best, all of that melted away:

“But that said, it was still amazing, it was like riding a lightening bolt.

It was a great time being strapped into that car and feeling like you were in control, and sometimes when you weren’t, realizing how wild the situation could become if you got upside down at a place like Daytona.”

He posted a tweet earlier flying into Daytona today, and now, says he would give anything to strap back into the race car one more time:

“I’ll tell you this, looking out the window in that tweet of us landing, my whole feeling today, I retired at the end of 2017… I’m so jealous now of these drivers.”

He misses all of it… even the prep stuff and getting ready to run a race at the highest level in the sport that used to give him extreme anxiety:

“Watching them practice, watching them prepare, I’m looking out into the bus lot right now, seeing a few of them walking around, and I’m so jealous of them.

That they’re getting ready to do battle and go out there and race and compete. I miss it so much.

And I don’t shy away from that, I allow myself to miss it. I think that having some of that in my heart helps me in the booth.”

Of course, that feeling will likely never go away, because racing was one of the things he loved to do more than anything else in life.

And like they say, hindsight is always 20/20, and that seems to be the case here for Dale Jr.:

“But yeah, wish I was strapping in and getting ready to run Daytona 500 this weekend, and I think that’s the way it’s gonna be every single year.

Even when I’m way beyond, you know, the age of driving, when I’m in my 80’s, I’m still gonna be wishing, ‘Gosh, I’d love to be out there.'”

And we’ll still be wishing he was out there racing, too.

Check out the whole interview here, it’s worth a watch:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock