Dale Earnhardt Jr. tests at Daytona, but don’t expect a Cup return: ‘I’m done taking risks’

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Dale Earnhardt Jr. invested the early part of the week turning laps at Daytona International Speedway in front of over 10,000 fans.

No, it wasn’t precisely a go back to NASCAR Preseason Thunder, however it was the closest thing to it in rather a long time as the Cup Series barrels towards a brand-new season and a brand-new period.

In simply a couple of brief weeks, the Next Gen automobile will make its launching — initially at the L.A. Coliseum for the Busch Clash, and after that at Daytona.

Junior, assisting Hendrick Motorsports, was among almost 2 lots motorists in participation today screening out the brand-new automobile, consisting of single-car runs and multi-car preparing sessions.

And at 47 years of ages, that was as near to a Cup Series return as he wishes to get — specifically at a location like Daytona.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed his return to Daytona International Speedway, but don't expect this week's test to lead to anything bigger for the retired racer.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed his go back to Daytona International Speedway, however do not anticipate today’s test to result in anything larger for the retired racer.

“I’m old,” Earnhardt Jr. stated Wednesday early morning prior to navigating the 2nd day of practice. “Take a guy like (Hendrick driver) 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.

“I simply do not understand, at 47, that I’d want to take the dangers out on the racetrack. I’ve constantly questioned, what occurs to these people when the efficiency sort of starts to nose over? I believe a great deal of it’s your threat evaluation, and your desire to put yourself in extremely hazardous circumstances. When I was out there (Tuesday) in the pack, seeing those people get a little insane … I do not understand that I truly have that impulse any longer.”

Next Gen cars test out pack-racing Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway.

Next Gen cars test out pack-racing Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway.

What’s different with the Next Gen car?

Maybe in the old car he would, but this new machine, Junior said, is an entirely new animal.

The Next Gen car was set to debut last season, but it was pushed a year due to the pandemic. Some of the noticeable changes — and there are plenty — include bigger tires, one lug-nut, a bigger rear spoiler and, Junior said, much more drag.

“I didn’t seem like, when I was out there in the pack, that I had the ability to establish a run in the conventional sense,” he added. “You’re kinda simply there. I believe the only genuine manner in which I saw people making anything take place was to put individuals three-wide, and I believe that’s how this Daytona 500 is going to look.

“You’ll see side-by-side, double-file, until guys are tired of doing that, and then they’re gonna be three-wide.”

Along with Junior, numerous other huge names were at the track for the two-day test, consisting of Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.

John Probst, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Development, stated he was delighted with what he saw throughout Tuesday’s very first test, specifically compared to the preliminary Daytona Next Gen test back in September.

“We were fighting a lot of heat issues (then), driver steering issues with cars pulling one way or the other and not sucking up very well,” he stated. “I give a lot of credit to our engineers … they went to work and I think what we saw today was pretty good racing.”

Most likely a little excessive racing, Logano stated.

“We were all out there pushing and shoving each other pretty hard,” he included. “I don’t know why we do that, but when it’s racecars and a racetrack, it turns into a race. It was intense, to say the least. I was white-knuckling it a few times.”

Fans watch as Dale Earnhardt Jr. heads out to practice during Tuesday's Next Gen test.

Fans view as Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes out to practice throughout Tuesday’s Next Gen test.

So was Blaney, Logano’s Penske colleague who remained Tuesday’s session however supported the wheel the majority of the day Wednesday.

The 28-year-old stated there would be plenty to still find out ahead of next month’s race, however at the end of the day, he anticipates the very same turmoil we have actually all grown familiar with.

“If it’s the last two laps of the Daytona 500 and I’m in contention, I don’t really care what happens to me,” Blaney informed NASCAR.com after turning his very first laps.

Yep. Junior most likely made the best call.

“The Cup Series is for the elite,” he stated. “You don’t just show up and think you’re gonna go out there and compete. It would be like an old retired football player just showing up to a game thinking he’s gonna go out and compete with those guys … he’d get destroyed.

“I enjoyed them because pack-racing in front of me and I resembled, ‘Guy, I can’t think I utilized to do that.’ “

This short article initially appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Dale Earnhardt Jr. evaluates at Daytona however do not anticipate NASCAR Cup return

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.